Steptoe Street extension begins in Richland, Kennewick

Public leaders and officials from Kennewick and Richland celebrated Tuesday the symbolic groundbreaking for the Steptoe Street extension project.

The $3.91 million project will extend Steptoe south of Gage Boulevard to North Center Parkway.

It's the first phase of the project that was envisioned about 14 years ago, said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. It will open a lot of avenues for Kennewick and Richland, he said.

Both of the cities will see residential as well as business growth as they continue their successful partnership, Young said. "It's a great day."

The project includes construction of curbs and gutters, sidewalk, storm drains, landscaping with irrigation, lights and signals.

Two masonry block walls that will run on both sides of the road past existing homes also will be built as a noise barrier.

Much of the funding came from federal sources for the new 1.1-mile, four-lane road project, which will be completed late this fall.

Richland gave $300,000 for the project and is paying for the city's water line extension, said Pete Rogalsky, Richland's public works director.

The project will help reroute traffic and ease congestion on Leslie Road and Columbia Center Boulevard, he said.

But its real value lies in opening the doors for future growth when Steptoe is connected to Clearwater Avenue, Rogalsky said.

The proposed third phase includes reconstruction of Clodfelter Road from Clearwater to 10th Avenue.

The north-south road link eventually could provide a connection to the Southridge area, said Kennewick City Engineer Dan Kaufman.

That six-mile link will spur new growth and promote economic development and also take care of congestion on Highway 395 and Clearwater Avenue, he said, adding that he hopes money becomes available soon to make it happen.

"Transportation is the key to everything," said Kennewick City Manager Bob Hammond. It's a catalyst for promoting and sustaining growth, he said.

-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com