Fix Spokane Roads

Why does Spokane have Crappy Roads?

Ron T. Cop August 11, 2019 ·

Why do we have crappy roads? We do spend big money on improvements and re-surfacing?


A while back former City Council member Bob Apple wrote in another venue his opinion on this subject. I asked if I could share his thoughts and he gave me permission.


That information was basically what I demonstrated and briefed myself to the old Street Advisory Council for the City of Spokane. Must say the onion-skin streets were never meant to last more that a couple years and its like a two inch over coat to make the streets look new and we had a lot of that a couple years ago because so many streets were in disrepair. Other problems are substandard products being used and the local suppliers are literally horrible because they air impregnate the tar by bubbling hot air through the hot tar before mixing and cooling. Also instead of a lot of hard heat exploded or crushed granite rock with a little #2 Grade old Texas type tar they are using crushed basalt rock and also nixing in the ground off top two layers of the old street. The best streets use heavy #2 grade tar not oxygenated as a glue for heat exploded to uniform size heat exploded granite rock. Also when spread a roller at least twice as heavy as the City has today presses down with the intent of removing air bubbles. We back a few years ago were also digging down two feet and replacing the road base with crushed glass garbage system had collected and used for good drainage when the street tar would eventually shrink with age and would allow water to drain without creating chuckholes. If I can answer any other questions then just ask but to prove my point to the committee I provided them samples of area material and demonstrating what lasted and what does not so we could get better quality streets constructed. Fact is even our local concrete provided by suppliers is very bad and garbage to want was available around here fifty years ago. Not enough concrete, with to much lime and calcium and the wrong rock used that also should be that heat exploded granite no longer available around here and we once had a plant but was not owned by present suppliers.

I caught that concrete was not tested and followed up with Bob Apple. Concrete testing was an issue in the expansion of RPS according to the investigative work of Larry Shook.

At the time RPS was built there were two suppliers here but since there is only one really left in the Spokane Region. To be considered an industry there must be four providers and clearly we do not have that so we get what they offer. There are specifications that must be meant for Federal Highways and a Federal Highway inspector told me regarding a concrete resurfacing of part of I-90 through the City that if necessary in the future they would have concrete brought in from outside the area and that will be interesting to see how they handle the problem with the North Freeway down to the I-90 widening improvements here in coming years. Also our local inspectors are not administering a required content slump test for the material before allowed to be poured and on each load delivered.


It is actually three for an industry and not four. Back through the 70’s we had many the largest Commercial Contractors in the State based here in Spokane and now nothing but a shadow remains. Kuney Construction who our County Commissioner married into has a much larger operation on the coast building bridges and freeways. Product quality is the responsibility of government inspectors on government jobs and those State and Federal turned over less often to the City and County. There is basically only one company supplying most of the asphalt and concrete here in the region and our government has assisted in the buyouts but also the attempts to run alternates out of this area. As for rock, RA Hanson paid Gene Ball to build and operate a heat exploded gravel granite rock facility but eventually a much cheaper product was introduced and that being crushed basalt rock that basically put the other out of business regarding government contracts to supply and clearly to our regions construction loss.