By Paul Delaney
One of the best known and most widely used access points to the Spokane River for recreational floaters is about to undergo a massive remodel. Beginning this spring or summer, the T.J. Meenach access, just downstream from the bridge of the same name, will undergo a complete redesign as part of the bigger City of Spokane stormwater runoff project designed to keep pollutants out of the river.
“The city is working to restore T.J. for public use while meeting our needs for a clean river is a great example of leveraging resources to meet multiple needs,” said Andy Dunau, Executive Director of the Spokane River Forum.
Construction, which includes repaving and installation of utilities between Northwest Boulevard down T.J. Meenach to the bridge will take place throughout the summer and into fall. Work on the river access is not slated until fall, after the prime floating season.
The area, which currently serves both commercial and recreational floaters, will be upgraded with an entirely new configuration. Access will be flipped to eliminate an awkward turn and allow entrance off an exit to Downriver Drive from T.J. Meenach.
Once inside, traffic will move one-way toward parking that will accommodate over 30 vehicles, plus spaces for users with rafting trailers. A new designated launch area for rafts will be constructed at the end of the park—an area that now serves as the entrance. There will also be a turnaround to ease traffic flow.
Between the parking lot and the river will be a swale that will help handle the stormwater. A new trail will form a border along the river and help the shoreline riparian environment.
Currently about 5,000 acres of stormwater from northwest Spokane flows untreated to the Spokane River at end of the T.J. Meenach bridge. To address this situation, the city has already begun a series of six projects that will divert the initial flush of stormwater to about six acres of grassy swales for treatment.
Five of those six acres will be at the disc golf course located just west of Downriver Golf Course. The disc golf course will also be rebuilt and upgraded as part of the swale construction project.