Benton County and West Richland plan to work together to seek federal funding to pave about a one-mile stretch of South 38th Avenue.
The road project would cost about $1.4 million total, with the two jurisdictions going after money for design this year and construction the next.
The project also would include paving a small part of Mt. Adams View Drive.
Staff from the county and city will work out an agreement formalizing the partnership; it will then head to county commissioners and the West Richland City Council for approval.
During a special meeting Wednesday, commissioners spent about a half-hour discussing what approach to take with 38th, namely whether its improvement should be pursued with West Richland as a standalone project -- which was the path ultimately taken -- or whether it should be done as part of a county road improvement district, or CRID.
Most of the one-mile stretch of 38th is in the county, although some is in West Richland.
Commissioner Jerome Delvin said he wanted to settle on a direction. "I would like to see something brought to a finale so this can be done and over with. I know these people (living in the nearby Willamette Heights neighborhood) have waited a long time," he said during the meeting.
Last year, some property owners in the Willamette Heights area initiated a proposed CRID to replace about two miles of unpaved, privately-maintained roadway, including part of 38th, with paved road built and maintained by the county. Property owners within the CRID would have paid a per-parcel assessment to cover project costs.
The proposal drew support in the neighborhood, but also dissent, and county commissioners in February ultimately rejected the proposal. Commissioner Jim Beaver said Wednesday that he didn't like that "citizens up there (would have been forced through the CRID) to build an arterial street that the county and the city should have been building in the first place."
If the newly proposed 38th project is funded, construction could start in 2015.
The county would need to contribute about $22,500 in matching money for the design phase, and more for construction.
West Richland would handle administering the project.
Several Willamette Heights residents were at Wednesday's meeting. Afterward, Darren Curtis, who helped lead the recent CRID push, said it's unfortunate the road couldn't be improved sooner, but residents are "very pleased" to see 38th made a priority.
Commissioners on Wednesday also directed county staff to work with Willamette Heights residents on a new CRID to improve some of the area's unpaved residential streets.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald