Richland won’t be able to pay for the entire Duportail Street bridge with money from the state’s $16 billion transportation package, but it got a good start.
The city had initially requested the full $38 million for the Yakima River crossing to link the Queensgate area with central Richland.
The Senate included the request in its package, but the amount was reduced to $20 million in the final version drafted by the House and Senate leadership, said Richland Public Works Director Pete Rogalsky.
It is not a surprise to only get some of the money, Rogalsky said. He compares getting all the requested money to winning the lottery.
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“Having a $20 million head start is exactly where we wanted to be coming out of the package,” he said. “We hadn’t been on any list before, so going from zero to $20 million is still a huge win for Richland.”
The money will be available to Richland in 2017, Rogalsky said. The city still needs to raise between $15 million and $18 million.
Rogalsky is hopeful that the city can find the remainder of the money by then.
“We’re putting together a plan now,” he said. “There are a number of grant programs that might provide some money.”
Among those Richland is looking at it is the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant program.
“Those are kind of few and far between,” Rogalsky said. “We wouldn’t count on a TIGER grant.”
Getting the state money should also make it easier to raise money locally, he said. The city is already buying property for right of way for the bridge.
“It’s monstrous,” Rogalsky said of the state funding. “When you get past 50 percent of the money, both the city and other grant agencies realize the viability of the project and are going to work to make it go.”
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the transportation funding package July 15. It will include an 11.9 cents per gallon gas tax increase, which will be phased in over two years.
Other area projects getting money in the package include the Lewis Street overpass in Pasco, a new bridge at Highway 395 and Ridgeline Drive in Kennewick, a Red Mountain interchange off Interstate 82 in West Richland, a railroad interchange near Connell and widening of Highway 12 between Pasco and Walla Walla.
Rogalsky credits Sens. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, and Curtis King, R-Yakima, the Transportation Committee chairman, for getting the money for the bridge in the bill.
“Sen. Brown and Sen. King deserve a lot of credit for listening to us and going to bat for our needs,” he said.
Work has already started on a project that will eventually create a continuous link between central Richland and Queensgate. A $1.8 million link between Lee Boulevard and Wellsian Way broke ground in June and is expected to be complete by the end of the year, said Julie West, project engineer.
“It will be the new downtown corridor route,” she said.
That portion will be called Stevens Drive, but it will run into Duportail Street after the second phase of the project — connecting Thayer Drive and Wellsian Way — is complete. That $3.6 million second phase will also include new single-lane roundabouts along Duportail Street at Wright Avenue and Thayer Drive.
The second phase is now in design, and the city plans to buy additional land for it later this year, West said. Construction will begin in 2016 or 2017, depending on when federal money comes through.
The extension of Duportail Street is part of the same corridor as the bridge, but is considered an independent project, West said.
The bridge project, which the city council made a priority in 2007, would include some other changes. Rogalsky said Tanglewood Drive would be extended to meet with Duportail Street near the foot of the bridge, where a traffic signal would be added. The road would improve access to residents of a neighborhood and apartment complexes off Highway 240.