Road 68 -- one of Pasco's primary retail and commercial corridors -- will undergo more than $1 million in improvements this summer to beef up the road's ability to move an estimated 50,000 cars per day.
That many trips is equivalent to about 80 percent of the city's population of 63,000 people traveling the busy west Pasco road each day, and a consultant's study found in 2012 that a number of short- and long-term improvements are needed to smooth out traffic and make the area safer.
The city council at a workshop Monday heard that the Public Works Department is ready to hire design and survey firms for the project, with an eye toward starting construction by July.
The project includes addition of left-turn lanes on Burden Boulevard, which intersects with Road 68; signal modifications to accommodate detection of fire trucks and ambulances; installation of raised medians on Road 68 between Burden and Sandifur Parkway; and turn-lane modifications at the intersection of Burden and Clemente Lane to prevent left turns.
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The design portion of the project also includes preliminary layout of two right-turn lanes onto Interstate 182 from southbound Road 68 that the city will take to the state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration for approval.
The city has been awarded almost $750,000 in surface transportation money from the state and $500,000 from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program toward the cost of the project. The design work will cost about $129,000. Surveying will cost about $16,000.
Councilman Al Yenney asked during the workshop why the Public Works Department hadn't bundled the design and surveying work into one agreement instead of going with two separate contracts. If the council approves, both contracts would be awarded to HDJ Design Group, a Vancouver firm with a Pasco office.
Ahmad Quayoumi, the city's public works director, said the city can save money on this type of work by having separate contracts.
"We have been trying to cut the cost of the project," he said.
HDJ Design Group also designed the recently completed Fourth Avenue project and the upcoming Powerline Road project, Quayoumi said.
The council is scheduled to approve the contracts at its next meeting.