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New NIC entrance planned

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | June 30, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - By this time next year, there could be a new entrance into the North Idaho College campus.

Partners working on developing an education corridor in downtown Coeur d'Alene have begun preparing the infrastructure design.

"It's a great start to the process that hopefully this time next year will be a reality," said NIC trustee Mic Armon.

Preliminary plans for the project - being developed on the land that runs along Northwest Boulevard from U.S. Highway 95 south to NIC's existing campus - include a new campus entryway, with a traffic signal, at the current intersection of Hubbard Avenue and Northwest Boulevard.

A tree-lined roadway is envisioned that will take drivers past the city's wastewater treatment plant to a roundabout near a building planned for joint use between NIC, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College

A committee of about 20 members began meeting about two months ago, Armon said, to select an engineer to complete traffic studies and work on the design of the roads, sidewalks and other amenities that will support the facilities developed on the property.

The partners hope to have those plans in place by next fall and be ready to start some of the infrastructure construction in early spring.

The city of Coeur d'Alene is taking the lead on that part of the project, Armon said, while the NIC Foundation, the owner of the 17-acre DeArmond Mill site property is working on completing the annexation of the parts of that parcel that are not currently in the city.

The city agreed to allow the annexation last year, and college foundation representatives have been in negotiations with the city to create an acceptable annexation agreement.

"It's been a little over a year. That's not highly unusual on a property like this with so many stakeholders," said Coeur d'Alene City Administrator Wendy Gabriel.

The final draft is set to go before the city council during an annexation hearing on July 20.

In addition to the standard language, Gabriel said the corridor annexation agreement requires that the NIC Foundation request and reach a planned unit development agreement with the city.

It also requires that the site design allow for public access to the Spokane River.

Represented on the corridor design committee are The Fort Grounds Homeowners Association; the city of Coeur d'Alene, its parks and recreation department and the city's urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corporation; the Centennial Trail foundation, NIC, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College.

Through a request for proposal process, J-U-B Engineers was selected to complete the infrastructure design work.

Gabriel said the engineer's contract is being negotiated, and will likely go before the city council for approval before the end of July.

"We are looking forward to finalizing a design and getting something built on the project," Gabriel said. "If this new Hubbard alignment is what happens first, it will help alleviate traffic problems by adding another ingress/egress to the college."

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