The Richland City Council is expected to award a $25 million contract to Apollo Inc. on Tuesday, capping a decade-long effort to span the Yakima River between downtown and the Queensgate area.
The city received nine bids to build the Duportail Bridge. Apollo’s bid was lower than the city’s estimate, said Pete Rogalsky, public works director.
Apollo is a well-established contractor with a long list of infrastructure projects to its credit.
Local examples include a roundabout at 27th and Union in Kennewick, the Columbia Center Boulevard bridge over the BNSF railroad tracks and Pasco’s Ainsworth overpass.
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The city has not seen a work schedule, but Rogalsky anticipates the contractor will begin staging the project in February or March, weather permitting. The bridge is set to open in 2020.
“With the hiring of the contractor, all the players are in place,” Rogalsky said.
The scope of work covers all bridge-related construction, from Riverstone Drive, on the east side of the river, across the river, and over to Duportail Street.
Work includes installing utilities, retaining walls, redirecting overhead power lines into conduit and of course, the bridge itself.
The new corridor will provide a link between two key sections of the city, improve emergency response time and is meant to relieve citywide congestion, including at Queensgate and Interstate 182.
One aspect has been somewhat overlooked in the continuing debate about funding the bridge: Water.
The new bridge will include new pipes to carry treated water from the Richland core to south Richland. All of south Richland depends on single, 1950s era pipe for potable water as well as fire suppression.
The pipe was initially buried beneath the Yakima River but 60-plus years of wear and erosion have exposed the pipe.
“It’s a major vulnerability,” Rogalsky said.
To secure water service and modernize the system, the city’s water utility is providing $5 million for the bridge and the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded a $2 million grant.
The $38 million project is eligible for $31.5 million in state funding, including $20 million from the Legislature’s $16 billion transportation package, approved in 2015.The package also provided funding for Kennewick’s Ridgeline Drive overpass at Highway 395 and Pasco’s Lewis Street overpass, though neither of those is ready for construction.
The Duportail Bridge will include new pipes to carry treated water from the Richland core to south Richland. All of south Richland depends on single, 1950s era pipe for potable water as well as fire suppression.
The Duportail Bridge turned what should have been a sleepy city council election this year when the Richland council voted unanimously to levy a $20 car tab fee to help pay what it believed was a $4 million funding gap, now revised to $1.66 million.
The fee takes effect on Jan. 1 and is expected to generate about $850,000 per year. It will primarily pay for pavement maintenance throughout the city.
The car tab fee was a key issue in the November general election, when four positions on the seven-member council were up for election.
Mayor Bob Thompson, arguably the face of the fee, won re-election against a soft-spoken newcomer by the narrowest margin of victory in the city. Councilwoman Dori Luzzo Gilmour lost her re-election bid to challenger Michael Alvarez.
The Richland City Council holds a pre-meeting at 7 p.m. in the manager’s conference room, 975 George Washington Way, followed by a regular session at 7:30 p.m., next door in city hall, 505 Swift Blvd. Both are public sessions.