Apollo Inc. building second phase of Duportail Bridge

Editor’s note: This story is updated to reflect the award of a contract for the second phase of Richland’s Duportail Bridge project.

Richland is preparing to move to the next phase of its $38 million Duportail Bridge project.

The main phase — building the bridge over the Yakima River — is wrapping up.

Now, Apollo Inc. is turning its attention to the second phase, which includes reconstructing the intersection of Duportail Street and Highway 240 and upgrading the Port of Benton railroad crossing.

Kennewick-based Apollo built the first phase, breaking ground in February 2018.

Its bid for the next phase was $600,000 lower than the project estimate and was the lowest of three submitted. The Richland City Council approved the contract at a May 20 meeting.

The Duportail Bridge links central Richland and the city’s fast-growing south side, including the Queensgate district. It also brings a new, secure water line to serve the entire area.

The bridge is on track to open as scheduled this fall, said Pete Rogalsky, director of public works.

Rogalsky said the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order restricting activity to reduce the spread of the deadly Covid-19 did not interfere with the schedule. Municipal projects were unaffected by the stay-home order.

Politics, not the pandemic, prompted a slight pause in the second phase.

The governor ordered a temporary halt to all state-funded transportation projects in November, after Washington voters approved Initiative 976, reducing vehicle registration fees that helped pay for transportation projects.

The order extended to projects such as the Duportail Bridge, which depends on gas taxes and not car tab fees.

The order was lifted when the 2020 Legislature approved a $10.4 billion transportation budget that relies on existing revenue.

Rogalsky said the city lost 30 to 60 days because of the order but said it did not affect the critical period when work is allowed in the river.

A King County judge removed the injunction that prevented it from taking effect in March, setting the stage for further appeal.

The Duportail Bridge budget includes $22.5 million from the 2015 Legislature’s Connecting Washington program, $9 million from the state Transportation Improvement Board, $2.7 million in federal funds and about $3.2 million in city funds. Richland’s car tab fees are supporting road maintenance and construction.

The city is installing a new water main to serve south Richland as well, retiring an aging line that sits on the bottom of the Yakima. City water customers provided about $5.3 million through utility fees and a $2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant covered the rest.

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