Thanksgiving is all about family, friends, food and ultimately, giving thanks. There are so many blessings in life, but one of the things that I was surprisingly thankful for this season was the end of the construction on Hamilton Street.
Ever since early July, the city has been working to improve Hamilton by adding left turn arrows to traffic signals, longer left turn lanes and pedestrian push buttons at major intersections.
I had no idea what the construction was even for until I looked it up recently. All I knew was that the streets weren’t falling apart, and everything was functioning just fine. They didn’t have to change anything, but they did. In the end, I’m sure it turned out to be really beneficial for drivers, but it was a mess for months and months during the process.
With the street reduced to one lane of traffic going in each direction rather than two, it was almost impossible to predict the travel time to work, school, home or wherever people were going.
Sometimes, it was perfectly fine. You stop at a couple of traffic lights, then keep driving and reach your destination earlier than you expected. Other times, you sit at the same traffic light for ten minutes because people in front of you can’t turn left at the signal with the continuous line of cars coming the other way.
For me, the traffic was bearable until just a couple weeks ago. I randomly decided to take Hamilton home from work instead of Division. As I was passing the Sinto intersection, I noticed traffic going in the opposite direction left a gap for other cars to cross, as they’re supposed to. There was no traffic in my lane, so I kept driving.
Then. BAM! Some kind of SUV trying to cross Hamilton smashed into the back, left side of my car, forcing it to spin out and just barely hit the curb by Our Thai House. I froze, waiting for the other driver to get out of their car so we could exchange information… but they kept driving.
I couldn’t follow them because I would have had to turn around, and the construction zone made that impossible. I couldn’t pull over and get out of my car because there was no bike lane or side street or anything.
I was basically forced to go around the block to try to find this car. I never did.
At that point, I was really over the construction. All the frustrations of the past few months came flooding back into my already overwhelmed mind. I thought about how Sharp was closed for the whole summer to put in that round-about, the closure of so many side streets, the addition of confusing detours, not to mention the ongoing project on Trent Avenue.
I know the purpose of construction is to improve safety and help the development of our city, but there has just been so much going on in the Gonzaga area over the past year.
It is a huge relief that full Hamilton access has opened back up as winter is approaching. According to Spokane City’s website, they have plans to continue the project in the spring, but at least we have a few months free of that awful construction.