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Source: Coeur d'Alene Press
Author: Brian Walker
Greensferry overpass nears reality
I-90 project could happen in as soon as two years
Original Article

POST FALLS - The Greensferry Road overpass project on Interstate 90 - which was revived earlier this year due to popular demand - appears to be on the fast track.

"Greensferry looks really promising now, and sooner rather than later," Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin said. "I can see if we get all the wrinkles ironed out starting construction in a year or so."

Under a proposal, the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency would borrow funds and repay them annually with revenue now being created with property taxes through the existing East Post Falls Urban Renewal District.

"Work could start prior to all the nickels being in the piggy bank," Larkin said.

The overpass would improve traffic and pedestrian circulation and emergency response and provide another much-needed connection between the north side of Post Falls and the south side.

Greensferry Road is between the Seltice Way overpass and Highway 41. The overpass would empty into business districts on both sides of the freeway.

The project has been in the works for several years, but was essentially put on the back burner when the City Council a year ago decided to not extend the life of the East Post Falls URD.

However, multiple circumstances this year revived the project. It was deemed a high priority in the city's citizen surveys and the Federal Highway Administration determined that only an overpass, not a full interchange, would be allowed at Greensferry. The City Council then decided to make the overpass a priority.

At the recent Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Coeur d'Alene, Larkin said the urban renewal agency would be able to pay for the entire overpass with revenue generated from two sub-districts in East Post Falls.

"I asked the ITD board for their help in getting the paperwork issues resolved to keep the project moving along," he said. "We are asking it to be a design-build ITD project for them, and they would work directly with our URA."

The state transportation board in August is expected to consider the format, which expedites construction similar to the Beck Road interchange under construction in Post Falls.

"This will trigger the City Council having to approve an extension to the two sub-districts for probably three years to allow enough predicted income to satisfy the cost of the overpass," Larkin said. "Right now, with the district expected to close in 2015, there won't be quite enough income to cover the costs and right of way creating the need for the extension."

The total estimated cost of the project is between $10 million and $13 million, but that's a rough number because a design hasn't been completed.

City officials say other funding options such as grants and state transportation funds will be explored.

The Greensferry overpass is one of the five original projects in the East Post Falls urban renewal plan that was approved after public hearings in 2002.

If additional urban renewal funds are needed for the project, the plan would have to be amended after a public hearing so that the life of the district could be extended.

"The plan amendment could accomplish both an increase in the project budget and an extension of the termination date," said Tom Lien, the urban renewal agency's executive director.

Eric Keck, city administrator, said a meeting between the City Council, ITD and the URA will be scheduled "to ensure that everyone is on the same page."

"The project could begin sooner rather than later if everyone agrees on logistics, it is a design-build, and the right of way can be acquired relatively easily," Keck said.