Benton County could get new public works maintenance shop

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldApril 1, 2014 

Benton County could soon have a new public works maintenance shop to replace the aging facility on South Ely Street in Kennewick.

Designs and cost figures for a new shop on county land off Wiser Parkway near Cottonwood Elementary School should be ready for county commissioners this month.

If commissioners sign off, the new shop could open next year, said Dan Ford, county engineer.

The main Ely Street shop building was built more than 50 years ago. Problems include an outdated electrical system, a flat roof that leaks, and a slab floor that's settled in some areas, county public works department officials have said.

"The old shop is dilapidated," Ford said. "We can't get our heavy equipment in there to even work on it -- we work on it outside. The facility is just very, very much outdated."

The department also is studying whether it would work to move to a single county maintenance shop at the Wiser Parkway site -- an idea raised by commissioners as part of a push to gain efficiency and shrink the county's footprint.

The county has two public works shops -- the one on Ely Street and another on North Hinzerling Road in the Prosser area.

Ford expects the results of the study will be ready for commissioners in the next month or so.

If the single shop idea moves forward, public works still could use the Prosser facility for heavy equipment and county courthouse fleet vehicle work and as a satellite location for road equipment and material, Ford said.

About 28 people work out of the two shops.

Ford talked about the single-shop feasibility study at Tuesday's commissioner meeting. He also gave an update on several projects, highlighting some that recently were completed -- such as safety improvements at the intersection of Plymouth and Locust Grove roads -- and others that are on the horizon. That category includes upgrades to the main road through Horn Rapids Park and improvements to Nine Canyon and Tyrell roads.

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