Columbia Park Trail railroad bridge replacement to begin soon
BY KRISTI PIHL
The remodel of a wooden railroad bridge over Richland’s Columbia Park Trail could be finished as soon as this spring.
Port of Benton commissioners unanimously awarded on Thursday a contract of up to $1.3 million to MJ Hughes Construction of Vancouver, Wash.
Replacing the 200-foot- long bridge has been on the port’s wish list since another bridge on the same rail line burned about 13 years ago.
The port is paying for the project using a $2.3 million state grant.
The contract includes a 5 percent contingency fund that allows Port Executive Director Scott Keller to quickly approve changes if any are needed once construction begins.
Because it is a railroad bridge renovation, once construction begins it needs to finish, said Roger Wright of RGW Enterprises in Richland, the port’s contract engineer. There won’t necessarily be time to come back to the commission to approve changes.
The contractor will work with the Tri-City & Olympia Railroad so that construction will not affect the company’s use of the bridge, Wright said. The railroad company has indicated it would prefer construction be done from 5 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, but officials hope some other times will be available for work.
The contractor will open the bridge for operation by 6 a.m. each Monday, Wright said. Under the contract, if the company misses the deadline, it can be fined $1,500 for each 15 minutes.
The project will replace almost all of the wood portions of the bridge with steel, Wright said. However, the rail ties will remain wood because they are an odd shape, each individually made. It also is easier for Tri-City & Olympia Railroad to maintain the wooden ties.
The steel portion of the bridge also is being remodeled so the bridge can hold heavier loads, Wright said. When the project is complete, the bridge will be able to carry up to the heaviest possible loads.
The two concrete columns that are covered in graffiti also will be repainted with anti-graffiti paint, Wright said.
If MJ Hughes Construction gets its steel order in soon, the steel could be delivered by the end of February and construction could be finished in mid-April, Wright said. If the order is delayed, construction may continue into May.
The Port of Benton owns about 15 miles of rail line that goes from Columbia Center Boulevard to Horn Rapids Road. The line was built in the ’50s and provides access to Hanford and industrial properties owned by the port and the city of Richland. Tri-City & Olympia Railroad leases the track and maintains it.
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