Four major highways serve the greater Spokane area. They are Interstate 90, U.S. 2, U.S. 195, and U.S. 395. U.S. Of those, only Interstate 90 is a full freeway, although U.S. 2 does constitute a freeway towards Spokane International Airport. Growth currently focuses on the U.S. 2 & 395 (Division Street) corridor leading north from central Spokane to their split near Country Homes.
At present Division Street provides the main route to the growing northern suburbs. The surface highway carries six lanes overall through a busy commercial corridor. To alleviate the arterial, WSDOT is constructing a new freeway for U.S. 395 in conjunction with the FHWA between Interstate 90 and U.S. 395 near Wandermere Golf Course (north of the U.S. 2 and 395 split at Country Homes).
Construction began on August 22, 2001 on initial grading and drainage projects associated with the northernmost freeway alignment at Farwell Road and U.S. 2. Work continues at the Farwell Road interchange and overall corridor between Francis Avenue and U.S. 395 (Wandermere) with a potential opening by 2009. Additional freeway north of the Spokane River may open as soon as 2011 depending upon funding. However the freeway south of the Spokane River to Interstate 90 may take as long as 20 years to complete at current levels of funding due to a $3.3 billion overall price tag.
Origins for the North Spokane Corridor date as far back as a 1956 proposal for a $13 million North-South Freeway in Spokane. By 1958 the Interstate system arrived and construction efforts focused on Interstate 90, and instead an expansion of Division Street was pursued, an idea never realized and dropped by 1965. In 1970, the Department of Highways issued â€œCorridor Study for North Spokane and North Suburban Area Freewayâ€. This version of a North-South Freeway followed the Helena and Nevada Street corridor from Interstate 90 northward toward U.S. 2.
Construction commenced quickly on a directional interchange along Interstate 90 at Liberty Park with the intentions that it would tie into the Helena-Nevada freeway corridor. The interchange opened in 1971. Opposition formed to the Helena-Nevada corridor in 1972 and the idea was dropped in 1973 after unfavorable public and local legislator opinion. Funding evaporated with gas tax shortages spawned by the oil embargo.
In 1983 ramps from the Liberty Park interchange were extended northward, including a new bridge over the Spokane River, to Hamilton Street and Washington 290 (Trent Avenue). Studies followed from 1985 onward on North-South corridors associated with regional transportation plans. Hamilton Street’s corridor was dropped from the project in 1991, but work on the project EIS continued until its release in 1995. The Final EIS and Record of Decision followed in 1997 and by 2000 land purchasing began along the freeway corridor north of the Spokane River.
Design work continued on the corridor south of the Spokane River through to 2003; work on the project around Farwell Road began in 2001 and was initially complete by June 2005. Construction also began in 2005 on the segment of freeway between Gerlach and Wandermere. The five-mile freeway between Wandermere and Francis Avenue, initially forecast to cost $189 million, now may cost $321 million.
Planned interchanges along the ten-mile freeway include those with U.S. 395 at Wandermere, U.S. 2 and Farwell Road, Parksmith Drive and Hawthorne Road, Francis Avenue and Freya Street, Wellesley Avenue, Washington 290 (Trent Avenue), and a high-speed directional at Interstate 90.
- WSDOT – Project – US 395 – North Spokane Corridor.
- “North-South Freeway still on schedule.” The Spokesman-Review, March 22, 2007.