Legislature OKs funds for Mid-Columbia projects

The state’s new two-year budget includes several million dollars in projects for the Tri-City area, including two big Richland projects: a $27 million new academic building at Washington State University Tri-Cities and a $15.2 million military readiness center in the Horn Rapids area.

In north Richland, $7.7 million has been earmarked for a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, exploration center to accommodate student visits and tours.

The $4.9 billion capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public schools, higher education facilities, public lands, parks and other assets throughout Washington. It’s funded primarily by bonds.

“All of these projects were driven by local interest and advocacy. Without our communities’ strong support, not one of these projects would’ve been included in this budget,” said Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser.

Local projects funded by the capital budget include:

  • New Washington State University Tri-Cities academic building: $27 million to provide science, technology, engineering and math teaching laboratory space for first- and second-year students currently provided in leased spaces. A reappropriation for design funding also is provided.
  • Tri-Cities Readiness Center: $15.2 million to build a new readiness center on a 40-acre parcel of land acquired by the military in a previous biennium, creating a new modern space for National Guard members in support of state and federal missions. 
  • Columbia Basin College and Walla Walla Community College: $11.2 million to pay for maintenance, preservation and repairs, and provide $3 million for a student recreation center at Columbia Basin College and $1.5 million for a student recreation center at Walla Walla Community College.
  • LIGO STEM Exploration Center: $7.7 million.
  • Pasco Local Improvement District: $4 million to pay for the Department of Natural Resources’ share of a local improvement district with the city of Pasco, to develop infrastructure, opening 110 acres to new development.
  • Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla: $3.6 million to pay for renovations and improvements, including security-camera upgrades and roof replacement.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties: $1 million for Kennewick clubhouse project.
  • Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick: $1 million to address security upgrades to install emergency response and access controls in each of the campus buildings.
  • Port of Walla Walla: $1 million to help develop a regional water system to supply drinking water in the Attalia Industrial Growth area, near the town of Wallula.
  • Walla Walla lease: $1 million to fund the continued implementation of the Columbia River Basin Supply program, to help provide alternatives to groundwater in areas served by the declining Odessa Aquifer.
  • Richland School District early learning facility: $800,000.
  • Benton City sports complex acquisition: $582,000 to help buy 25 acres on Ki-Be Road, across the street from Kiona-Benton City High School. Sports complex will include fields for soccer, football, baseball and softball. Benton City will provide $389,000.
  • Little Badger Mountain Trailhead: $464,000 to help develop trail project linking mountain ridges in western Benton County. 
  • Washington State Patrol Crime Lab: $400,000 for laboratory renovations and security improvements at the Kennewick station.
  • A Street Sports Complex in Pasco: $350,000 to help pay for the first phase of the sports complex project on A Street in Pasco, to build three multi-use sports fields, a parking lot and other facilities. Pasco will contribute $221,113.
  • Pet Overpopulation Prevention vet clinic building in West Richland: $300,000.
  • Kiona-Benton City school parking lot improvements (Benton City): $268,000.
  • WSU Tri-Cities, new sidewalks: $175,000.
  • Pasco Farmers Market and Peanuts Park: $154,000 to help pay for improvements.
  • Benton County Museum: $103,000 to expand the facility in Prosser and restore leaking roof.
  • Benton City Riverfront Park acquisition: $82,000 to help buy 11 acres to create a riverfront park near Seventh Street, along the Yakima River. Benton City will contribute $20,413 in cash and staff time.
  • Prosser competitive pool improvements: $51,000 to upgrade equipment, add new signs and public address system at the competitive pool in the Prosser Aquatic Center in E.J. Miller Park.
  • Benton County Courthouse: $34,000 through the state Courthouse Preservation Grant Program.
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