A dream that began in a design classroom at Washington State University in 2004 will soon become a reality as Governor Inslee today signed into law a transportation package that includes $8.8 million in state funding for Spokane’s University District Gateway Bridge.
Over a decade ago the Spokane community created a blueprint for campus expansion of the Spokane University District (UD), a 770-acre piece of prime urban land. Proponents began advocating for developments that would change the landscape of a formerly industrial area into the hub for innovation and research that exists today.
After an initial attempt to secure funding for the Gateway Bridge was unsuccessful in 2014, a combination of factors provided a win-win for all parties this budget biennium. The Gateway Bridge checks all the boxes for a legislature focus on multimodal transportation, trail unification, increased mobility, and economic development opportunities.
The University District Development Association (UDDA) has been pursuing opportunities to enhance the entirety of the district and completion of the bridge is the number one infrastructure priority for the UD, because of its ability to spur economic development in the business area south of the BNSF railroad and east of Division.
“Spokane is fortunate to count higher education among its strengths in large part because of the growth of the University District through partnerships with outstanding universities,” said Spokane Mayor, David Condon. “This investment in a critical connection between education and the business districts supports new opportunities for learning and economic growth.”
Without the bridge, developers have been hesitant to invest their dollars in the south UD, due to a lack of connectivity between the area and university campuses. A recent housing study coordinated by the UD suggests the bridge will make possible mixed-use neighborhoods that encourage alternate forms of transportation, spark redevelopment of under-utilized properties, and promote creative design and construction. Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said, “As a member of the University District Board, I am so thrilled that we received the final funding necessary for the Gateway Bridge. This iconic structure will spur economic growth in an area of town that needs investment.”
The UDDA Board of Directors would like to thank the partners who advocated on behalf of the UD and Gateway Bridge; Spokane state legislators, in particular Senator Andy Billig, City of Spokane staff, City Council and Mayor Condon, Greater Spokane Incorporated and staff, Downtown Spokane Partnership and University District staff, and leadership from UD university partners. Without their combined continued support this important milestone would not have been possible.
“Spokane has become one of the preferred ‘university hubs’ that students from all over the country will want to live in,” stated UDDA Chair, Kim Pearman-Gillman. “Having this bike and pedestrian bridge will complete the missing link for mobility across the railroad tracks between the university campuses and the medical district on the hill, thereby opening up many more development opportunities to enhance this area.”
Representatives hope to break ground in late-2015/early-2016 with completion by 2019.
Spokane University District
The University District’s purpose is to create a robust urban live, work, play and learn experience on the edge of downtown Spokane. By advancing the initiatives of our education institutions, key infrastructure investments and private development, we are creating tremendous opportunity for students, the advancement of medical research and a full spectrum of job creation to enhance our region’s quality of life.
This premier location provides a unique opportunity to tightly weave Spokane’s urban fabric with the higher education and health care industries into a diverse and powerful economic engine of the 21st century. Find out more at www.spokaneuniversitydistrict.com.
Downtown Spokane Partnership
The Downtown Spokane Partnership until recently, has managed the University District and continues to provide significant advocacy and promotional support. Securing funding for the UD Gateway Bridge unlocks access to developable lands within walking distance of the UD campus and is an important infrastructure project for the strength and diversity of the entire downtown economy. For questions regarding the importance of the bridge to downtown please contact Mark Richard.