Residents off Road 100 in Pasco are facing lengthy detours for up to three weeks while a bridge is removed and an open irrigation canal is replaced by a pipe.
Work started Monday on the road, which is closed to any traffic from just south of Chapel Hill Boulevard to Argent Road.
The project is a partnership between the Franklin County Irrigation District and the city of Pasco.
John Burns, the district’s operations manager, said they have planned for more than 15 years to put piping in place of the open channel. The district has been setting aside money in its annual budget for the past several years and is doing the work a little at a time.
The canal dates back to the late 1930s or early 1940s. It extends from the Columbia River to about Road 36 near the Tri-Cities Airport.
The irrigation district already has closed in the canal between the river and Road 100, and this next phase will cover one mile to about Road 88.
Burns said the need to replace the open channel is due to maintenance costs for the deteriorating concrete lining, water conservation and liability issues with more small children and animals in the growing residential area.
The original plan was to leave the small bridge, which is just south of Welsh Drive, in place. But talks with the city led to the joint venture since Pasco plans to widen that section of Road 100 in the next three or four years.
Ahmad Qayoumi, Pasco’s public works director, said the city is being proactive by working with the irrigation district on this project, instead of waiting to tear down the structure. This will save the city money in the future since it no longer will have to pay for an annual inspection of the bridge.
Burns told the Herald that the contractor anticipates the project lasting two weeks. However, Qayoumi said residents should not expect the road to reopen until Jan. 22 because wintry weather may affect the work.
Residents who live south of the construction and want to access Interstate 182 are being told to drive Argent Road east to Road 84, then up to Chapel Hill to reconnect to Road 100.