Martin Luther King Jr. Way Opens - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Martin Luther King Jr. Way Opens

Press release from City of Spokane

Spokane, Wash. - Hundreds of people, including elected officials, leaders within the African-American community, students, and construction contractors, attended Thursday's opening ceremony for Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which rolls through the heart of the City's growing University District.

"Our celebration was about new connections, a new transportation connection that will enhance an exciting part of our City core and, more importantly, a new connection among people of all races and backgrounds," says Mayor David Condon.   "A street bearing the name of Dr. King has been a goal for so many people in our community, and we achieved that result today."

During the 11 a.m. celebration, Mayor Condon presented keys to the City to both the Rev. Percy "Happy" Watkins and Ivan Bush, long-time organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March and Rally, as well as community leaders in the area of equal rights.  Rev. Watkins and Mr. Bush are stepping down from their roles as organizers of the annual march. 

"With your welcoming spirit and open hearts, you have led this community to be better," the Mayor told the men.  "I don't know how we can truly say thank you, but I offer this gesture and token of our appreciation."

The ceremony, at Martin Luther King Jr. Way & Pine Street, also included remarks from a dozen speakers, a performance by the Grant Elementary School drummers and dancers, classic cars from the 1950s and 60s, and a song performed by Martin Herford.  Herford's selection also was sung at Dr. King's funeral and the opening of the monument in his honor in Washington, D.C., last year. 

At the ceremony's end, the crowd released balloons and dignitaries took the first ride down the new street in classic cars provided by the H.A.S.S.I.E. car club.  The street opened to regular traffic at about 1 p.m.

The newly completed street features complete streets elements including bike lanes, street trees, wide sidewalks, and an elevated median, it reduces vehicular traffic on Spokane Falls Boulevard and helps slow traffic in the center of the Riverpoint campus, creating an inviting setting in the University District.

This is just Phase I of the plans for the corridor. Phase II, planned for 2013, will run from Sherman St. east along the Spokane River, under the Hamilton Street Bridge to Perry St. and Trent Avenue.

The final phase, currently unfunded, will include that pedestrian and bicycle bridge envisioned to go over the BNSF railroad tracks.

Construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Way began in July 2010 and wrapped up this week. 

The $3.6 million project was funded by federal and state funds.

 

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