The History of the 10-Year Street Bond Program

The arterial framework of the City of Spokane’s existing street system was almost entirely established prior to 1900 through the platting process. Similar to other western towns that were platted during that period, the platting of Spokane set a precedent for the width of the majority of the existing city streets and avenues. Sixty-foot wide streets were the norm. The streets were nearly always aligned north-south and east-west in a “grid” fashion. James W. Glover, Spokane’s founding father, utilized this kind of right-of-way grid system when he platted most of Spokane’s streets. In the central city, additional right-of-way was included to allow a horse and wagon to turn around in the street, thus 100-foot right-of-ways are common in downtown Spokane and in the Gonzaga University area.

The street system designed by Glover adequately met Spokane’s transportation needs through the transition years when the automobile replaced the horse and buggy. The earliest vehicle registration in Spokane County was in 1924 when 30,516 vehicles were registered. Since then, the use of automobiles steadily climbed. In 1950, Spokane County had 80,576 registered vehicles; 250,000 in 1980 and 375,000 vehicles were registered in the County in 2001.

Today, our transportation infrastructure continues to age, many streets have outlived their design life, and we have expanded to provide access for neighborhoods and to support business investment, economic vitality and future growth. Our crews now care for about 850 miles of paved streets and nearly 40 miles of unpaved streets within the City. In addition to increased traffic volume, allowable loads (weight) carried by buses and trucks has also increased, both of which contribute to the deterioration of the City’s streets, along with other demands on the City’s funding priorities and declining revenues to create a continual challenge to appropriately fund street maintenance.

On Tuesday, November 2, 2004, 61.3% of City voters decided that it is time to get to work repairing miles upon miles of deteriorating Spokane City streets and passed the 10-Year Street Bond program. City Proposition 1, the $117,351,000 street repair bond, was certified by the County Auditor on November 17, 2004. A seven-member Citizens Streets Advisory Commission (CSAC) oversees Street Bond spending as recommended by the Mayor.