Add another project to Richland's busy road construction season.
The city is hustling to begin work this summer to rebuild Swift Boulevard before the new city hall opens in the spring. The project is key to the city's plan to create a corridor linking downtown to the Columbia River.
The stretch between Jadwin Avenue and Stevens Drive should be under construction by early August.
Pete Rogalsky, Richland's public works director, said rebuilding the street will be less challenging for drivers than the city's other major road project this summer — the rebuild of Queensgate Drive between Interstate 182 and Keene Road.
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Queensgate provides freeway access, which means major detours and other strategies to keep traffic moving. Swift carries less traffic and isn't the only option for driver's driving through Richland.
However, it's a critical route to Kadlec Regional Medical Center. Rogalsky said the city coordinated with Kadlec to preserve access to the hospital throughout the project.
The $1.8 million project includes repaving and widening Swift for on-street parking and bike lanes.
It will bring new sidewalks, street lamps and trees. Most work has to be complete by Halloween, when the Northwest's asphalt plants shut down for the cold winter season.
With the summer construction season already in full swing, Rogalsky said the city is hustling to ensure the Swift project gets on the calendar.
Richland's new city hall is taking shape at 625 Swift Blvd., just west of the current city hall. Officials want Swift Boulevard to be ready when the $18.5 million project debuts next spring.
Construction is on time and on budget, Rogalsky noted.
The hustle begins Tuesday, when Benton County is expected to award $500,000 from the Rural County Capital Fund following months of discussions.
Tuesday, coincidentally, is the deadline for contractors to bid on the Swift Project.
Next week, the Richland City Council will be asked to award the contract.
At the same time, it will finalize its own financial contributions to the project.
It initially hoped the Rural County Capital Fund would contribute $1.5 million.
However, there is only $500,000 available, leaving Richland $1 million short.
Benton County splits its share of Washington's 0.09 percent sales tax rebate to help its partners invest in job-creating initiatives.
Examples include Kennewick's Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village project, Benton City's sewer lift station project and the latest phase of the Port of Benton's Vintner's Village in Prosser and Richland's Queensgate Drive improvements.
While the county describes its conversation with Richland as sometimes "awkward: over the discrepancy, Richland Mayor Bob Thompson said it was a misunderstanding over the amount of money that is actually available.
"Everything is going to work out," he said.
Richland will tap its general fund budget and its capital improvement fund to cover the $1 million difference.
The street work is part of a larger package of investments aimed at reviving central Richland with more walkable neighborhoods and easier access between downtown and the Columbia River.
The old city hall will be demolished in a future phase and the site will be marketed to prospective developers.
The fire station at George Washington Way and Swift also will be relocated to the south, freeing up that site.
Redeveloping the two properties with a mix of retail, residential and service businesses is expected to drive more than $20 million in private investment and bring about 150 jobs to central Richland.