Richland is trying to find the money to build an estimated $30 million bridge across the Yakima River to relieve congestion on Interstate 182.
Richland Mayor John Fox said the proposed bridge is the city's top priority.
City Councilman Phillip Lemley will meet with Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, in Olympia today to discuss state funding for the project.
Fox said drivers plug up Queensgate and Aaron drives while entering and exiting I-182 as they travel between south and West Richland and Highway 240.
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Slower-moving traffic plagues the short stretch of interstate that crosses the Yakima River, causing serious accidents, he said.
The state Department of Transportation conducted a speed study on the12-mile stretch of I-182 in 2009 following a string of unrelated fatal crashes to determine whether the highway's 70 mph speed limit should be reduced to 60 mph.
But state officials found the 70 mph speed limit wasn't the primary cause of the fatalities and the majority of drivers still are traveling at or above the posted limit, even during rush-hour traffic.
The proposed bridge would link the Richland bypass highway to south Richland near Duportail Street, alleviating traffic that crosses the Yakima River via I-182.
Fox said the project will cost about$30 million, but the price will not be final until analysis and plans are completed. Richland will ask the state for as much money as possible, Fox said.
And to show lawmakers how serious Richland is about the project, the city is prepared to invest $12 million, he said.
This project also will improve intersections on Duportail and the Richland bypass to accommodate the new bridge.
Delvin said he plans to get state dollars earmarked for the bridge through a large package lawmakers are working on to improve roads across the state.
Projects like this are common though, he said, and Richland should not be discouraged. However, the city may need to seek additional funding through the federal government, he said.
The new bridge fits into plans for expected growth in south and West Richland, Fox said, especially at the shopping area on Queensgate Drive near Target and Walmart and developments behind Badger Mountain.
Delvin, when he is not in Olympia for legislative sessions, often crosses the Yakima River via I-182 to visit relatives and shop, but rarely during rush hour.
"I can avoid it. So I do," he said.