Franklin County officials hope a federal grant can help move up construction on the final part of a road project.
County commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday to apply for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Public works director Matt Mahoney said the money would bring a three-mile stretch of Pasco-Kahlotus Road between Petersen and Ice Harbor roads up to modern standards.
The project meets the federal requirement for the competitive TIGER program, which says funding recipients must have a national, statewide or regional impact, Mahoney said.
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"It's a major farm to market route, so for mobility, it's a very important program," he said.
Construction on the project could start next spring if the TIGER grant is approved. Without it, the project will likely have to wait until 2015, Mahoney said.
The county has already completed improvements on Pasco-Kahlotus Road from Highway 12 to Petersen Road and, after this summer, will have widened and made other changes from Ice Harbor Road to Herman Road.
"We have basically this stretch that's a missing link," Mahoney said.
Using the TIGER money on Pasco-Kahlotus Road also would allow the county to seek money for other projects when requests are made in 2015 from other state and federal funding sources, Mahoney said.
The TIGER program, unlike the other funding sources, doesn't require a match from the county, which usually equals 13.5 percent of the project's cost.
The county successfully applied for TIGER funds -- part of the federal stimulus program -- once before. It secured a $1 million grant in 2010 to add two miles to East Foster Wells Road, connecting it with Pasco-Kahlotus Road.
In other business Wednesday, commissioners agreed to set up a meeting with the city of Pasco regarding the future of the Franklin County Historical Museum.
Commissioners sent a letter to the city April 24 asking it to remove restrictions on the museum deed the city turned over to the county in 1979. While they say they never will change the use of the 102-year-old former Carnegie Library building, county officials don't want to be required to keep the facility a museum.
City Manager Gary Crutchfield wrote in a May 17 response that a meeting between city, county and museum officials would be more fruitful than an exchange of letters.
Commission Chairman Rick Miller said the museum building is owned by the city, but the county controls it and is responsible for upkeep. The county leases it to the Franklin County Historical Society for $1 a year.
"We want either the title, or they take the title and run the museum," Miller said, adding that the county would not change the use of the museum as long as it controls it.