Here’s where Tri-City traffic is going to be a hot mess this summer. Hint: Both ends of Richland’s Gway

New pavement. New bridges. New bike lanes. New traffic signals.

Summer road construction season has arrived in the Tri-Cities.

It all bodes well for the future. But in the interim, drivers will want to pack a healthy dose of patience to deal with closures, delays and detours on some of the Tri-Cities busiest streets.

A pair of projects on George Washington Way, the busy north-south arterial in Richland, promises to flummox drivers all summer.

The main project involves a 4.7-mile stretch at the north end of the city.

“Take the bypass. That’s really our message,” said Richland spokeswoman Hollie Logan, referring to Highway 240, which parallels George Washington Way on the west side of town.

As drivers brace for summer driving conditions, the Washington Department of Transportation has a bit of good news: The Interstate 82 Columbia River Bridge reopens in mid-June.

The older of the two bridges that carry traffic between Oregon and Washington at Umatilla closed in June 2017 for a $10 million rebuild of the Oregon-bound bridge. Work took longer than expected due to weather delays and complications.

Umatilla Bridge
The I-82 Umatilla Bridge reopens this month after a two-year closure while the deck of the Oregon-bound span was rebuilt. Tri-City Herald


George Washington Way North — Monday was the deadline for contractors to bid on a $4.3 million project to resurface nearly five miles of George Washington Way between Horn Rapids Drive and Guyer Avenue, near Williams.

The work includes grinding down the old road surface and laying new asphalt, updating 110 sidewalk access ramps, re-striping to add bicycle lanes and replacing the traffic signal at Van Giesen Street. All should be done by November.

The city is also partnering with the the Battelle to install pedestrian-activated crossing lights at 10th and 11th streets near the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Battelle is contributing $166,000 to cover costs. The city council is scheduled to sign off on the deal on Tuesday.

The paving project is being paid for with money from the National Highway System Asset Management Program, Richland’s $20 car tab fees, real estate excise taxes, business license fees and a Community Development Block Grant.

George Washington Way South — 42,000 vehicles pass through the George Washington Way intersection at Columbia Point Drive/Aaron Drive each day.

Tuesday night, Intermountain Slurry Seal begins work to seal cracks and remove striping in preparation to repair winter damage and extend the life of asphalt.

The project extends on George Washington Way (between Jadwin Avenue and Columbia Point Drive) and on Aaron Drive (between George Washington Way and Goethals).

Work will be done 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. to minimize traffic troubles. During construction, the George Washington Way and Columbia Point Drive signal will be set to flashing mode and controlled by road workers.

Swift Boulevard — The city expects to wrap up the rebuild of Swift Boulevard, the east-west corridor that connects the central city to the Columbia River waterfront, in August. The project was supposed to be done by May but was delayed by snow and cold weather.

Leslie Road Storm and Water Systems — C&E Trenching recently began digging a trench down the middle of Leslie Road between Gage and Broadmoor to update water and storm systems.

Keep up with road construction news on Richland’s Facebook page @RichlandWA and on its traffic delay website, bit.ly/RichlandTrafficDelays.


10th Avenue — The south half of West 10th Avenue between South Joliet Street and Columbia Center Boulevard will be widened this summer. Work includes a three-lane street, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, sewer lines, street lights, new asphalt and other work. To be done by October.

Asphalt restoration — $2.5 million worth of asphalt work will upgrade key stretches over the summer, finishing by September.

  • South Kellogg Street (between West 10th Avenue and the KID canal crossing)
  • South Union Street (between West Clearwater Avenue West 10th Avenue)
  • West 10th Avenue (between South Quincy Place and South Garfield Street)
  • The West Canal Drive bridge at North Carmichael Drive is to be resurfacing.

West 27th near Walmart — The intersection of West 27th Avenue and South Olson Street will get a traffic signal in advance of the opening of the new Fairchild Theater, which is expected to increase traffic at the intersection near Canyon Lakes.

Updates include pedestrian ramps, sidewalks and other improvements. Sidewalk removal began in May. The $355,000 project should wrap up in July.

Seal coating — Nearly 13 miles of arterial streets will be sealed beginning in mid-June. Locations will be announced.

Watch for announcements at the city’s Facebook page @KennewickWA.


20th Avenue Overlay — Bids to repave 20th Avenue between Court Street and Interstate 182 are due by June 12. The project will involve new pavement, pedestrian ramps and striping.

Argent Road — The road will be widened between Road 36 and 20th Avenue near Columbia Basin College.

Oregon Avenue — Reconstruction between Interstate 182 and Superior Street began in April and is expected to wrap up soon.

Lewis Street Overpass — Work is expected to begin in August on the long-awaited bridge to carry Lewis Street over the BNSF Railway tracks.

The street currently passes under the tracks in an aging tunnel. The cost is an estimated $36 million, with $15 million coming from the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package.

Pasco anticipates construction of the long-awaited Lewis Street Overpass will begin this summer. city of Pasco

Extensions — Wrigley Drive and Chapel Hill are to be extended.

Follow Pasco at the city’s Facebook page, @CityofPasco.

Benton County

Obsolete bridges

County roads will be affected by the removal of obsolete bridges and fill-in work. Each site will be affected for about two weeks, with detours provided. The start date isn’t set. They are: Rothrock Road (between Good Road and McCreadie Road); District Line Road (between Old Inland Empire Highway and Hanks Road); Thomas Road (between Highland Extension and Kelly Road); Roza Road (between Morgan Road and Accord Road); Whan Road (between Davis Road and Morgan Road); Davis Road (between Whan Road and Evert Road); Twin Bridges Road (between Harrington Road and Highway 240)

Franklin County

Taylor Flats Bridge is now open following a long closure for reconstruction.

Juniper Dunes Recreation Area Access — Goodman and Mehlenbacher Ent. Inc. (GAME Inc) is building a $2.1million, 4.3-mile roadway to the 40,000-acre Juniper Dunes Recreation Area.

The project is about seven miles northeast of the intersection of Highway 12 and Pasco-Kahlotus Road. It should be done in late 2019.

State Department of Transportation

Blue Bridge Repainting — The bridge that carries Highway 395 between Pasco and Kennewick is being prepared for the first stage of a new paint job. The bottom of the bridge will be cleaned and repainted later this summer, causing one-lane nighttime closures.

New blue bridge flag
The bottom of the blue bridge will be cleaned and repainted this summer by the Washington Department of Transportation. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Highway 395 — Seven intersections between Pasco and Ritzville will receive acceleration and deceleration lanes. Work is set to start in August and last until next fall. Expect one-lane closures and intersection closures.

Guardrail replacement —Region-wide guard rail replacement efforts are planned on stretches of Interstate 82, Interstate 182, Highway 12 and Highway 395. Expect lane closures between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. through fall.

Nine Mile Hill to Frenchtown (Touchet) — Improving bridges on Highway 12 in Walla Walla with some closures from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until late July. An automated traffic signal will be in place to direct alternative traffic.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.