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PF council mulls fee hikes, traffic study

by Brian Walker
| April 6, 2010 9:00 PM

POST FALLS - The Post Falls City Council tonight will consider $7.1 million in improvements to reduce traffic congestion in the Seltice-Mullan corridor and increases to impact and sewer capitalization fees on new growth.

The Seltice Way-Mullan Avenue corridor - the subject of a recently-completed, year-long study - runs from Idaho Street west to the intersection of Mullan and Seltice just west of the Slab Inn.

Proposed improvements to ease congestion include:

• widening Spokane Street to six lanes at the I-90 interchange;

• installing traffic signals at the intersections of Spokane-Fourth, Spokane-Mullan, Spokane-Seventh and Seltice-Compton;

• a roundabout at Mullan and Seltice;

• a roundabout or other realignment at Idaho and Fifth;

• utilizing Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues as alternate routes to the Spokane-Seltice intersection; and

• modification of existing signals at Seltice-Spokane and Idaho-Seltice.

"If approved by the city council, it is anticipated that the design of improvements would start in the 2010-2011 budget and the first improvements constructed in 2012," said Rob Palus, assistant city engineer. "Due to the physical area covered by all of the recommended improvements and their associated costs the (project) would be constructed in several phases over a number of years."

Palus said phasing of any improvement would allow the city to work within the budget and apply for grants to reduce the city's cost.

The biggest area of concern is the Spokane-Seltice intersection.

David Evans and Associates, which conducted the study, will present the findings to the council. If approved, it will become part of the city's transportation master plan.

Making the corridor a couplet in which Seltice would be a one-way eastbound street and Mullan a one-way westbound was bantered about four years ago, but that concept was scrapped when the City Council opted not to launch a feasibility study after hearing businesses' concerns that it would drive away customers and cause more traffic problems.

Most of the $129,000 study was funded through a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant. The city's financial match, which was paid by transportation impact fees, was $10,842.

Several public workshops have been held on the study.

The council will also hold a public hearing before considering a 5.3 percent increase to impact fees for public safety, parks and streets and a 4.25 percent hike to sewer capitalization fees on new growth.

The council held a hearing on the fees last August, but decided to postpone the increases until May 1 to help the construction industry during the recession.

"Over the last several years, the city has attempted to set a standard for small annual fee increases to prevent infrequent larger increases from having as much of an impact on citizens," said Shelly Enderud, the city's finance director.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 408 N. Spokane St.

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