A Highway 395 underpass and 12 firefighters top Kennewick’s proposed $357M budget

Kennewick will gain an overpass at Southridge, a new roundabout and a dozen new firefighters in the proposed budget for 2019-20.
Kennewick will gain an overpass at Southridge, a new roundabout and a dozen new firefighters in the proposed budget for 2019-20. Tri-City Herald

Kennewick will gain an underpass over Highway 395, at least one new roundabout and a dozen new positions in the fire department in the next two years.

Those are some of the highlights of the $357 million spending plan for 2019 and 2020 that’s headed to the city council on Dec. 4.

The proposed budget earmarks millions for an underpass to make it safer to get to and from Southridge High School and Trios Southridge Hospital, a massive water tank at Creekstone and citywide water and sewer upgrades.

The city is ponying up its its share the new Tri-Cities Animal Control Shelter in Pasco and making noise about building a new city hall, as well.

Pasco passed its $450 million, two-year budget in November.

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Kennewick’s city council must pass a budget by the end of the year.

Here’s a look at some of the big ticket items in 2019-20 and beyond. The 345-page document is available on the city website, go2kennewick.com.

1. Highway 395 underpass

Routing Ridgeline Drive beneath Highway 395 will add a new corridor in the Southridge area and improve safety at a notoriously dangerous stretch of highway.

The new corridor will relieve congestion on Hildebrand by providing a safe connection between the highway and Ridgeline. Left turns already are restricted for safety reasons.

The city and the Washington Department of Transportation have long wanted to build the $24 million overpass and on- and off-ramps.

Ridgeline Overpass meeting
Building an overpass at Ridgeline Drive and Highway 395 is one of the top priorities for the city of Kennewick in the coming biennium. File Tri-City Herald

Funding includes $15 million from Connecting Washington, the 2015 Legislature’s ambitious transportation package that also provided money to build Richland’s Duportail Bridge and Pasco’s Lewis Street overpass.

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Kennewick expects to receive support from the National Highway Freight program and a public works trust fund. Work begins next year and ramps up in 2020.

Related projects include a $1.1 million extension of South Zintel Way from Ridgeline Drive to West 40th Avenue. The extension includes a roundabout at Zintel and Ridgeline.

The underpass also will carry a new water line.

2. New water reservoir

The 10-million gallon concrete reservoir that serves the Creekstone neighborhood and other areas of west Kennewick is more than 75 percent through its useful life.

The city will launch a $10.5 million replacement project in the coming biennium, spending $600,000 in 2019 and the balance in 2020.

Creekstone reservoir.JPG
Kennewick will replace an aging 10-million gallon water tank at 18th and Kellogg Street in the coming biennium. City of Kennewick

Related projects include a 30-inch water main routed along Seventh Avenue between West Fourth and Highway 395 and West 10th and Edison.

The new main will increase reliability. A separate a 24-inch transmission main will link the Kellogg system to the Kansas Reservoir south of Hansen Park.

3. More firefighters

The city is adding a dozen positions in the fire department to support the future Station 6 in the Southridge area. Hiring should be done by March and includes three captains, three paramedics and six firefighters.

CLO Seal Spring Estates fir
The city of Kennewick is adding 12 positions to the fire department in the coming biennium, including three captains, three paramedics and six firefighters. File Tri-City Herald

Station 6 will cost $9 million and won’t be built until 2022.

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The city is expanding the ranks now to support existing operations and a growing population.

The positions are supported by a $2.3 million, three-year SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Association.

The city has five fire stations and 93 firefighters.

Kennewick also is setting aside $75,000 per year to replace old fire hydrants for self-draining models requiring less maintenance.

4. New animal shelter

Tri-Cities Animal Control is a joint venture of the cities of Kennewick, Richland and Pasco, with a physical facility in Pasco.

Animal Control01.jpg
The regional animal control agency and A2Z Animal Sheltering Services is to get a new facility in 2019. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Pasco is leading a project to deliver a new building and shelter in 2019. Kennewick budgeted its $1.1 million share of the cost in the current budget.

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5. New city hall

This one is a couple of years out, but the city is mapping out a strategy to upgrade city hall.

The existing city hall at 210 S. Sixth St. was built in 1964. It faces costly upgrades to the roof and mechanical systems.

Kennewick City Hall.JPG
The city of Kennewick is beginning to make plans to replace its aging city hall at 210 W. Sixth Ave. File Tri-City Herald

The city wants to replace it with a 40,000-square-foot building at a cost of $20 million.

The project would be funded with bonds and has a tentative start date of 2023.

6. Better streets

Improvements at two key intersections are planned.

Deschutes and Columbia Center Boulevard would get a westbound right turn lane to improve traffic flow.

Steptoe Street and Gage Boulevard would gain double left turn lanes, wider streets and better signal timing.

Kennewick Avenue is targeted for upgrades in the coming biennium.

The $27 million “street fund” allocates $2 million annually for pavement improvements, which includes overlaying existing roadways, striping, signs.

7. Water and sewer rates

Bad news first: Water rates will rise just over 3 percent and sewer rates by 5.4 percent at the start of 2019 and again in 2020. Blame rising costs and a long list of capital projects for the increases, which began in the last biennium.

Water system updates include $6 million to automate meter reading. The new system will provide customers with real-time data about water use and free up meter readers for other jobs.

The city also will expand the capacity of its water treatment plant beginning in 2021.

The $9.75 million project is still a few biennium off, but planning is starting now.

The water intake structure near the cable bridge will get a $400,000 update that includes a new roof and electrical systems in 2021, again, supported by water rates.

Kennewick plans to update the roof and electrical systems of the water intake station east of the cable bridge. File Tri-City Herald

The city is also preparing for a major upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant.

The $20.8 million project is several years away, but will include odor control measures and preliminary steps toward replacing the lagoon-type treatment system.

In the interim, the city will spend $2.5 million in 2020 to dredge solids from the lagoon, which it is required to do every fourth year.

The future upgrade will be funded with a state loan, revenue bonds and sewer rates.

8. Vista Field redevelopment

The Port of Kennewick is pursuing a mixed-use development at the 100-plus acre former airfield in the heart of the city.

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The city is playing a supporting role. That includes signing off of the master plan and infrastructure it will take to turn an old runway into a walkable neighborhood with homes, businesses and an 800-seat performing arts center.

Vista Redevelopment plan
The Port of Kennewick and Total Site Services break ground Monday on a $4.9 million infrastructure project that will set the stage to redevelop Vista Field, the 103-acre former municipal airport in the heart of the city. File Tri-City Herald

The city budget includes $1 million in 2019 for the first phase of the project, realigning Grandridge Boulevard, and $437,000 in 2020 for other transportation improvements.

Council meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. at city hall, 210 W. Sixth Ave. The regular meeting will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. workshop to discuss unrelated business. Meetings are open to the public.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Ridgeline Drive will be extended beneath Highway 395 and not above it as originally planned.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514