The Port of Benton is planning several projects in 2015 that will support the district’s economic development and transportation goals for decades to come.
In 1998, the port acquired the “Hanford Railroad” and 18 miles of track that extends from Columbia Center Boulevard in Kennewick to Horn Rapids Road in North Richland. The port received a state transportation grant of $2.2 million to upgrade and replace an old wood trestle bridge that crosses Columbia Park Trail. The port will also replace some ballast rock that is needed to stabilize the rail line to support heavier loads. This work is necessary to improve safety for future use as well as support the soon-to-be-completed “loop track” and freezer in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park.
We will continue to market and sell properties in Vintners Village phase II in Prosser. With the completion of the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, the port anticipates growth for additional wineries and other tourist-related development.
The port is partnering with the Prosser Chamber of Commerce to coordinate a summer concert series at the Wine and Food Park. We have an excellent venue that includes a stage, public restrooms and other necessary infrastructure that will facilitate such activities. The Prosser Scottish Festival and newly formed Beer and Whiskey Festival are already successful events that occur every summer at the Wine and Food Park.
The port has planned to enhance the Richland and Prosser airports. At this time, Richland is home to 185 based aircraft, with demand for more. We will be working on additional infrastructure to help facilitate the demand. The Prosser Airport is scheduled for pavement rehabilitation and maintenance as well as a master plan update. We have again partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration and received a grant for nearly $1 million to complete these projects.
We will improve and upgrade Crow Butte Park, which is becoming a world-class RV and camping destination. Last spring, Tripleblaze.com (a camping and RV website that rates campgrounds throughout the United States) ranked Crow Butte Park No. 1 in the country.
During 2014, our partnership with Richland using Local Revitalization Financing (LRF) helped to fund road extensions and infrastructure expansion of the Horn Rapids Industrial area, which now is home to the world’s largest freezer built as one unit. The LRF also enabled the port and city to develop a broadband network expansion in north Richland, which was critically needed.
The port also partnered with Richland and Washington State University Tri-Cities by transferring land to house the Wine Science Center on WSU Tri-Cities’ campus. This new building is a world-class educational center for vintner and culinary arts.
Finally, we will work with our partners — Richland, Benton County and TRIDEC — to develop a master plan for the land transfer of 1,600 acres from the Department of Energy. This transfer will make the land available for industrial development to enhance the inventory of property for the city, county and port.