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Spokane - December 2009

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Spokane — Downtown Circulator Plan Revived

Rail Transit Online, December 2009

City and transit system officials have decided to revive the idea of a downtown circulator and are using $360,000 in federal and state grants for an alternatives analysis study on where it should go and what mode should be selected. Among the options for the latter are streetcars, electric trolley buses, conventional buses or a combination of technologies.

The city, which already operates a downtown shuttle with hybrid buses, sees an opportunity to obtain money from Washington for an expanded service. "Federal funding is going to be spent somewhere," Spokane Transit Authority CEO Susan Meyer told The Spokesman-Review.

A consultant will be hired to conduct the analysis, which should be completed in about 15 months. The results will be integrated into Spokane Transit's long-range plan for a High Performance Transit Network serving the metropolitan area.

Leaders from the business, healthcare and education communities have agreed that better transit links are needed between high-traffic locations. "To be a vibrant city, we must promote the development of multiple modes of transportation, especially in the heart of our city," said Mayor Mary Verner. 'We need walkability, bicycle access, and robust transit as part of that
infrastructure. This study will guide our actions for our future health."

Spokane was once considering a 15.6-mi. (25.1 km), $226-million light rail line connecting downtown with Liberty Lake. However, planning was shut down in December 2006 after local voters narrowly defeated two LRT advisory measures. Now, the STA wants to conduct an alternatives analysis, possibly starting late next year, to update work previously done for the LRT project and apply it to a less costly alternative.


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