Mid-Columbia transportation projects get funding from state

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldNovember 30, 2012 

State agencies this week announced funding for several Mid-Columbia transportation projects that will bring millions of dollars' worth of construction to the region.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission announced $25,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to pay part of the cost of a railroad crossing-safety project on West A Street in Pasco.

The city plans to install median barriers at the crossing and a raised traffic curb with traffic bumpers on South First Avenue, a news release stated.

The A Street crossing was selected for funding after an analysis of 15 incidents in the past five years in which motorists drove around lowered crossing gates and three additional accidents involving property damage.

The crossing typically sees 40 passenger and freight trains travel through each day at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.

About 5,500 vehicles cross the rail line at West A Street each day. About 2,500 vehicles travel on First Avenue per day, which runs parallel to the railroad tracks and intersects A Street at an angle, the news release stated.

The total project cost is $66,000, with Pasco paying $41,000.

Also this week, the Washington State Department of Transportation released a list of 70 city and county projects statewide that will receive a portion of $130 million in federal money to repair or replace aging bridges, a news release said.

The state transportation department said Franklin, Adams, Columbia, Grant and Walla Walla counties collectively will receive about $8.3 million from the Federal Highway Fund to replace six bridges.

Money from the fund is intended to replace, remove or repair bridges that are aging, obsolete or structurally deficient.

"Some of these bridges are beyond the point of repair and need to be replaced," Kathleen Davis, the transportation department's director of Highways and Local Programs, said in a statement.

But Davis noted many of the bridges can be repaired, adding years to their lifespan.

The six Mid-Columbia bridges on the list primarily are rural, crossing small rivers or irrigation canals.

Columbia County will see the most federal money, $2.8 million to replace the Kellog Hollow Road bridge over the Tucannon River in Starbuck, and $1.9 million to replace the bridge crossing the Touchet River at Rose Gulch Road in Dayton.

Adams County will receive $1.7 million to replace the McManamon Road bridge over the Potholes East canal.

Franklin County will receive $868,000 to replace a bridge over the Potholes canal at Road 170.

Walla Walla County will get $664,000 to replace the Pettybone Street bridge over Dry Creek.

Grant County is on the list for $407,000 to replace a bridge that crosses the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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