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A History of Female-Led Opposition to Urban Freeways in Spokane, Washington

Former Washington State Representative Margaret Hurley, aided by Margaret Leonard at the local level, saved the Logan neighborhood in Spokane from a freeway plan that would have razed 600 homes. Now the plan is reborn in another part of town.
January 4, 2018, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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In a two-part feature, Nicholas Deshais reports on an under-appreciated chapter of Spokane, Washington's history: the time the city's female representation in the state and local governments stopped the construction of a north-south freeway through the city.

The main subject of the articles is Margaret Hurley. "Though her name has faded from Spokane’s collective memory since she left elective politics in 1984, her effort is clearly on display on the east side of town."

"That’s because the freeway would’ve been built in the 1970s, but Hurley almost single-handedly stopped it," adds Deshais. "Hurley said she opposed the north-south freeway from the beginning because it was proposed to go up the Nevada-Hamilton corridor, blazing a route through the densely populated Logan neighborhood near Gonzaga University."

Among her legislative accomplishments, according to the second article in the series, Hurley "pushed through her law requiring an environmental review of every state highway project."

The law, and Hurley's opposition, saved the original 600 homes in the Logan neighborhood, but the state is again moving forward with the freeway plan, now called the North Spokane Corridor. The freeway is scheduled for completion in 2029, at the cost of $1.5 billion. According to Deshais, "the current route will raze 500 homes and 115 businesses when all’s said and done," by cutting through the neighborhoods of East-Central, Chief Garry and Hillyard.

The current route of U.S. 395, the North Spokane Corridor. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

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Published on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 in The Spokesman-Review
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