Locally known as the North-South highway, “North Spokane Corridor,” has been well over 50 years in the making. Since the onslaught of the automobile on the American urban landscape, Spokane has always assumed their future held a four-lane highway to the East-West in I-90 to Idaho, and another going North-South in US 395 to Canada; This dream from the 1940’s for US 395 has been discussed, hypothetically designed, disappointingly given up on, realistically designed, tweaked through controversy, and is now slowly getting funded and built. The local mockery of the project is that, “it only took 50 years to build 5 miles of highway!”
This effort has struggled from the beginning. In 1946, the public scrapped the original designs when first approval was pending. 1955 brought the second incarnation to the public with a total estimated cost of $13,000,000. (Today, that would be $112,249,664). In 1971, the Citizens Against Residential Freeways (CARF) formed. In 1991, ISTEA changed the requirements for the whole project. Then, the major hurdle was winning over the public. Today, the project faces the same issue many municipalities are experiencing in America: lack of funding.
The project has three basic sources of funding: local (from the City of Spokane and perhaps Spokane County, though that isn’t specified), state (from WSDOT), and federal (from the US DOT). So far, this totals to $605,504,000 for just the preliminary construction and five miles of usable roadway. Local funds total just $270,000, about .045% of the total cost thus far. This is probably due to the fact that many state grants require a match by the winning municipality. Spokane is looking to the state and federal grants to continue building the 1.9 billion dollar project with an undetermined completion date.
Would you fund this project if you had absolute power as the Washington State Czar of Transportation?
Credit: Image and data linked to sources.