Several Mid-Columbia officials spoke in favor of a statewide transportation package at a Thursday hearing.
Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell told the House Transportation Committee that a new Lewis Street overpass is needed to replace a 70-year-old underpass separating downtown from east Pasco.
Pieces of the underpass have fallen onto several cars, he said.
“Support of a gas tax from the Pasco City Council is not taken lightly, but the council recognizes the need for improvements to the statewide transportation program,” Zabell said.
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Richland Mayor Pro Tem Phillip Lemley told the committee that the gas tax is really a user fee, needed to help pay for a Duportail Street bridge over the Yakima River. The bridge would lead to $60 million in property and sales tax revenue in its first decade and $100 million each decade after that.
The $38 million bridge will be needed to help Richland’s new fire station in the Queensgate area serve as many residents as possible, Fire Chief Tom Huntington said.
“We cannot do it without state investment,” he said.
Also important for the area will be a Highway 395 bridge at Ridgeline Drive in Kennewick, improvements to Highway 12 west of Walla Walla and a Red Mountain interchange off Interstate 82, said Austin Neilson, government and economic affairs coordinator for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Kennewick did not have any representatives at the hearing, but the city approved a resolution of support for the transportation revenue package and thanked area senators for their leadership on the issue, spokeswoman Evelyn Lusignan said.
The Democratic-controlled House is still considering what projects to put on its transportation list. The area projects all made the Republican-led Senate’s $15 billion package, which was approved earlier this month. That includes an 11.7-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase.