Spokane is known for its iconic bridges and another could soon be built as plans are in the works for a new pedestrian bridge connecting the University District to East Sprague.
Millions of dollars have been invested in the U District but it all stops right at the railroad tracks. The bridge would link the two areas together and the vision behind it would be to create a mixed use urban neighborhood.
Right now the tracks act as a great divide; north of the tracks is the thriving U District. South of the track is an underdeveloped area with plenty of weeds.
The city has plans to change that with a bike and pedestrian bridge.
"It's a very nice bridge for the setting we see for the future, and I think we wanted something a little more iconic," senior engineer Steve Hansen said.
The bridge would be a 400 feet long, cable-stayed arch bridge connecting the University District to East Sprague Avenue.
"It's really about the opportunity for growth in the south University District, any perception that is in the area, we can overcome by bringing a good light to the area and this bridge is meant to change the tone and quality of development," Brandon Rapez-Betty with the Downtown Spokane Partnership said.
Scott Richter, who works in the U District, gives the plan two thumbs up.
"Increasing mobility is a good thing, it allows access for people who might not ever come over to this side," he said.
However there is a cost to the bridge. A big cost. Right now city leaders put the price tage on the project in the $10 million to $12 million range.
"I do find myself wondering why it is entirely necessary?" City Councilman Mike Fagan said.
Fagan considers the bridge a waste of money.
"We are in a down economy, whereas some of my colleagues might not see the light at the end of the tunnel ... I see a faint glimmer," he said.
On the other hand Richter thinks in the future, instead of filled with weeds the land south of the railroad tracks could be a bustling urban neighborhood.
"I think you have to look for things like that in the long term and not actually what it costs now. What can it generate in economic vitality in 20-30 years," Richter said.
Right now, the project is in the design phase which will wrap up this summer.
The city doesn't have funding to build the bridge, but even though they don't have the money, they hope to complete the bridge by 2017.