Bill recently signed into law looks to reconnect East Central communities


SPOKANE, Wash. — A recently signed bill will help reconnect Spokane’s East Central neighborhood.

Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5853 into law, which aims to return land back to communities split by Interstate 90 and the US 395 North Spokane Corridor. The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, will allow the Washington State Department of Transportation to lease surplus land that is no longer needed for future highway development.

“We can’t turn back the clock and undo the decision to fracture the East Central neighborhood, but this first step can help continue the good work being done right now in our community,” Billig said. “This is an important step back toward a healthy, connected and thriving neighborhood.”

More than 60 years ago, the construction of I-90 divided Spokane’s East Central neighborhood. Schools, homes and businesses were all moved as part of the process. Now, SB 5853 will return parks, trails, public plazas, badly needed affordable housing projects and more to the East Central neighborhood.

“The East Central neighborhood is a beautiful place with so many positive things happening, this keeps that momentum going,” Billig said. “The community will continue to lead this process. I’m so grateful that I can do something on my end to help aid in those efforts.”

More than 100 members of the Spokane community testified in favor of the bill. Billig said that level of participation speaks to both the need and enthusiasm for the bill.

“I’m hopeful this approach can serve as a model across Washington,” Billig said. “Communities across our state have stories similar to those of the East Central neighborhood. This approach can serve as a modest step to help undo historical wrongs and address a tremendous need in terms of housing, parks and other public spaces.”

The bill will go into effect on June 9.

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