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UPDATE: State of emergency declared for Benton, Franklin counties

and Wendy Culverwell

Ironwood Road in Franklin County was heavily damaged by this winter and spring’s weather.
Ironwood Road in Franklin County was heavily damaged by this winter and spring’s weather. Courtesy Rick Miller

A state of emergency has been declared for the Mid-Columbia as local governments work to repair damaged and blocked roadways.

The state of emergency, declared by Gov. Jay Inslee, covers 28 counties, including Benton, Franklin, Grant, Adams, Columbia and Walla Walla. The declaration serves as a prelude to applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds to help pay for repairs to storm-damaged infrastructure.

An estimated $10 million in damage was caused by recent flooding, according to state officials.

Franklin County estimates road damage at $3 million, a figure that does not include damage to the Esquatzel Wasteway or other infrastructure.

The county commission declared a local state of emergency on Feb. 20 as melting ice and snow forced officials to close nearly four dozen stretches of rural road just as some farmers were beginning to prepare fields for the coming growing season.

Kennewick too is revising its road repair program for 2017 after seeing widespread pavement damage from the slow-moving thaw after a prolonged freeze.

The city budgeted $1.6 million for road work in its 2017 budget. It is putting off its pavement overlay schedule to address potholes and other damage first.

Crews have marked white lines around sections of pavement that will be removed so the road bed can be rebuilt before it is resurfaced.

Cary Roe, public works director, said the work will probably consume much of the budget. He told the city council Tuesday he’s not optimistic Washington will qualify for federal emergency money, noting that the storm currently battering the East Coast may be a higher priority for FEMA and the president.

Washington state’s secretary of transportation will use emergency procurement procedures to alleviate possible public safety issues, according to the emergency proclamation.

All state agencies have been told to do everything reasonably possible to help local counties.

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