There’s a bit of something for everyone in the $9.8 billion transportation package lawmakers approved last week in Olympia.
The budget reaffirms the commitment the state made in 2015 when it passed Connecting Washington.
The $16 billion, gas tax-support infrastructure program helps key Tri-City projects — Richland’s Duportail Bridge, the proposed Ridgeline underpass in Kennewick, the expected Lewis Street overpass in Pasco and the Red Mountain interchange near West Richland.
While the 2019 Legislature stopped short of a big new package of projects, it did find money to help the Port of Benton repair badly deteriorated railroad ties on its 11-mile railroad.
The port received a package of grants and low-interest loans totaling $2.5 million, including a $250,000 local match.
The money will pay to replace failing ties and support beams on the Yakima River Bridge and on Berry’s Overpass, which crosses Interstate 182.
Scott Keller, executive director, said that work should begin this year.
He said Berry’s Overpass promises to be a delicate operation since it crosses a busy freeway, and the work will include physical barriers to prevent debris from falling into traffic.
The Federal Railroad Administration inspected the Richland railroad last year and issued a civil violation for defects on the Yakima River bridge. Now, trains are limited to 5 mph in some spots.
The Tri-City Railroad, which leases the track from the port, is responsible for maintenance and repairs. However, the port and railroad are embroiled in litigation and the repairs have not been made.
Keller said the port turned to the state for help. “We need to protect our asset,” he said.
If there is enough money left over, the port will make repairs to the road where the rail crosses Jadwin Avenue south of central Richland.
Here’s the status of key Tri-City transportation projects:
The city of Richland is investing $38 million to span the Yakima River between the central city and Queensgate, via Duportail Street.
Apollo Construction of Kennewick began work more than a year ago. It is on budget and on track for its scheduled 2020 opening, the city said.
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