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Interchanges on different roads

by Brian Walker
| November 16, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - While one new interchange on Interstate 90 at Post Falls is slated to be built starting next year, another is in limbo because of it.

City administrator Eric Keck said the interchange at Greensferry Road, which has been in the works for about 10 years, is at a "critical crossroads."

He said the project won't gain federal approval based on traffic models that consider the planned interchange to the west at Beck Road near Cabela's.

Keck said hope for approval of a full interchange at Greensferry rather than just an overpass now rests with extending the traffic model year out from 2030 to 2035.

The City Council tonight will consider allowing the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization to perform more modeling for the Federal Highway Administration to consider when determining how soon the Greensferry interchange is justified. The cost for the modeling would be free, Keck said.

"As it stands, the full Greensferry interchange is in jeopardy," Keck said.

While reviewing both the Greensferry and Beck interchange proposals, the feds questioned why separate traffic models were used for each project, Keck said. The Greensferry model did not contemplate the Beck interchange when it was submitted to the FHWA earlier.

"The resultant work to update the model to tie in Beck Road created both a time delay and caused a traffic volume forecast that now indicates that the Greensferry interchange would not meet traffic thresholds that would warrant the incursion into the freeway system," Keck said.

Regardless whether the FHWA ultimately approves the Greensferry project with an extended modeling year, a full interchange will be delayed further, Keck said.

The city has already spent $350,000 on preliminary work for the Greensferry project and the Urban Renewal Agency another $168,000. The project is intended to improve mobility, emergency response and benefit economic development.

Keck said it's not a matter of if a Greensferry interchange or overpass is needed, but when. He said the FHWA acknowledges the local effort and support for the project and is willing to consider an extended traffic model.

And, before the city spends more funds on the project, the City Council is being asked if it wants to have additional modeling done in hopes of gaining federal approval, Keck said.

A full interchange has had the most support, but some officials now wonder if the project needs to be pared down to just an overpass, Keck said.

Meanwhile, with FHWA approval, construction on the Beck Road interchange near Stateline is expected to start in 2011 and be completed in 2012. It is being designed by Foursquare Properties, the Carlsbad, Calif., developer of the Pointe at Post Falls anchored by Cabela's.

Foursquare will recoup the cost of the estimated $28 million project through temporary suspension of state sales tax collections at Cabela's. The interchange is expected to increase business construction activity in the project.

In other business, the council will consider whether to allow Joe Dobson to apply for a 5-acre annexation for a limited commercial and multi-family project at the northwest corner of Chase and Poleline. Dobson's annexation for a single-family housing project was approved in 2008, but the plans were put on hold and have since been modified.

The council will hold an annexation policy workshop at 5 p.m. The regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 408 N. Spokane St.

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