Warm weather has returned and roadmaking equipment is fired up.
Engineers have been re-envisioning busy intersections and aging infrastructure to improve increased volume and safer walkability.
Here’s a city-by-city look at transportation projects underway around the region:
Utility work is underway at Steptoe Street and Gage Boulevard as crews prepare to add double left turn lanes as well as single lanes at all intersection approaches. The project is in cooperation with the city of Richland, which is responsible for land west of the intersection.
Heath Mellotte, design services manager at the city of Kennewick, said roads should be paved by November at a projected cost of just over $3 million.
Preparations also are being made at the intersection of Columbia Center Boulevard (CCB) and Deschutes Avenue to accommodate the future addition of a third northbound and southbound lane on the busy road that passes by Columbia Center mall.
The project goes to bid this month, though it is uncertain if work will be completed this year. A right turn lane will be added for westbound traffic turning north from Deschutes onto CCB, as well as a roundabout at Colorado Street to the east to moderate the traffic flow. Mellotte said the estimated cost will be $1.6 million.
Pedestrian crossing improvements will continue this year with the addition of rectangular rapid flashing beacons, pedestrian refuge islands and pavement markings at numerous crossings across the city. Project cost is $855,000. Work begins June 1 after school lets out for summer.
Hot mix asphalt overlay will be applied to 10th Avenue from Union Street to Highway 395, Canal Drive from CCB to Kellogg Street. Work is set to begin in late May or early June at a cost of just over $1.95 million.
West Sixth Avenue from Dayton to Auburn streets, CCB from 10th to 20th avenues, South Rainier Street from Seventh to 27th avenues, the Bartleson Country Estates neighborhood and some streets between Ely and Rainier and 10th and 27th will receive chip seal coating between July 5-28 at a cost of $587,000.
More than 500 streetlights along Kennewick’s major arterials also will be retrofitted with LED lights at a cost of $363,000, replacing existing inductive sodium luminaries. Work begins this fall.
Pasco’s Public Works Director Steve Worley said the much-anticipated $36.2 million Lewis Street overpass project should be wrapping up in August or September. The overpass replaces the outdated underpass and will span the BNSF Railway yard and First Avenue and provide safer pedestrian amenities.
Second Avenue will join Oregon Avenue, which is to be overlaid this summer to Ainsworth at a cost of $3 million.
Court Street from Road 44 to Road 68 also will be overlaid, a $1.85 million project.
The third phase of the Argent Road corridor project begins this spring with completion expected by the end of the year. This final phase will cost more than $3.5 million and will include widening of the roadway between Road 36 and Saraceno Way, along with the addition of pedestrian and bike facilities.
Worley said the Sylvester Street safety improvement project will take the entire corridor of Sylvester Street from downtown all the way to the west and turn it into a pedestrian-friendly Complete Streets corridor which will include a pedestrian bridge on Sylvester that will span Highway 395. The Complete Streets program aims to design streets to enable safe use and support mobility for all users. Those include people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are traveling as drivers, freight vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders, children, older individuals and those with disabilities.
The estimated project cost is $7.7 million.
Another big project on Pasco’s list is the addition of eastbound on- and off-ramps at the Broadmoor Boulevard and Road 100 interchange, which often backs up each evening across the Interstate 182 bridge over the Columbia River.
The revision will include a new loop ramp.
“People who want to go north will travel underneath the overpass for a right turn instead of a left turn and the existing traffic signal will be replaced with a roundabout,” Worley said, citing the Queensgate Avenue roundabouts in Richland at I-182 that improved congestion in that area.
He said the city is on the fence about pursuing the construction of a roundabout this year at Court Street and Road 68 with the concern that it might not be finished by winter.
A lot of work is going on behind the scenes for several projects that will move into the construction phase next year.
On the slate for this year will be completion of the longtime-coming Center Parkway North extension, which will connect the Kennewick road to Tapteal Drive in Richland, extending it across the Port of Benton-owned railroad tracks that run along the border of the two cities.
The project was delayed due to long lead times on some materials.
City of Richland Public Works Manager Pete Rogalsky said it should be complete by Aug. 31 at a projected cost of almost $7.6 million.
The Vantage Highway Pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians that currently runs north of Highway 240 between Hagen Road and Kingsgate Drive near Horn Rapids will be connected to Stevens Drive this summer, enabling navigation into the heart of the city.
The city of Richland said the $760,000 third phase of the project should be finished by fall.
The city’s Pavement Preservation program will continue this summer with a focus on resurfacing and repairing the south end of town using micro surfacing, slurry sealing and crack sealing, making accessibility improvements along the way. Stevens Drive also will be getting some attention.
Firm dates have not been sent out by the contractor, but the city will send out notifications once they are set. The budget allocation for these annual projects is between $3 million and $3.5 million.
The Van Giesen and Highway 240 intersection also will see realignment, making it easier for traffic to cross.
The biggest project on West Richland’s agenda is the replacement of a nearly 20-year-old single-lane roundabout with a traffic signal at the intersection of Bombing Range and Keene roads.
Asphalt and concrete started moving in April.
Julie West, capital projects manager for West Richland, said though it’s an uncommon switch, it is the right solution. Municipalities usually look for opportunities to implement roundabouts over traffic signals due to the lower maintenance required.
A double-lane roundabout with slip lanes was considered but the footprint would have been too large and required moving adjacent houses.
“Traffic comes in at one direction at (the intersection) depending on the peak hour. A roundabout blocks the flow of traffic when volume is high, but with a traffic light, we can modify and change timing of the signal over time,” she said.
The total project budget is a little over $3.5 million.
The city hopes to finish the project in September.
North 62nd Avenue from Van Giesen Street to Grosscup Boulevard will be overlaid this summer after the replacement of an aging water main, which will support future development of the Well No. 3 site near Tapteal Elementary School.
Pedestrian improvements are planned as well. The $1.16 million project is projected to be completed in July.
In ongoing preparation for the future rebuilding of Highway 224-Van Giesen Street, improvements to the highway corridor will begin this summer, with water and sewer main replacements expected to begin in July and wrap up in October, at a cost of $2.36 million.
For those commuting in and around the Tri-Cities, the Washington State Department of Transportation has several projects affecting local roadways and urges drivers to be patient and drive cautiously.
The $22.4 million Highway 395 and Ridgeline Drive underpass project is nearing completion. Jackie Ramirez, who handles WSDOT communications for the South Central Region – Tri-Cities, said the state hopes to wrap up work in early May.
Ridgeline will cross beneath 395 and the new interchange will have on- and off-ramps, as well as an additional northbound 395 lane from Ridgeline to north of West Hildebrand Boulevard.
On the other side of town, work is underway on a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of highways 240 and 225 and Highway 10 at the entrance to Hanford.
There will be single-lane closures from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, controlled using a temporary traffic light and automated flagger.
Ramirez said WSDOT hopes to have the $2 million project finished by the end of June or early July.
In Pasco, WSDOT expects to complete a noise barrier wall project started last year between Flamingo Mobile Home Park and 395 by the blue bridge.
The Pioneer Memorial Bridge, the official name for the blue bridge, also will be getting some more attention this summer as contractors complete a painting job started a few years ago. This last phase involves stripping and painting the top portion of the bridge.
Work is set to begin after July 4 and conclude in summer 2025. There is potential for single-lane closures throughout the process, so WSDOT recommends drivers check for advisories and plan alternate routes to avoid delays.
“It will still be a blue bridge,” Ramirez said. “Painting helps to maintain the structure. The current paint is now chipping, which deteriorates the structure.” Total project cost is projected at $33 million.
Commuters traveling between Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities will see the opening of a new four-lane section of Highway 12 east between Frenchtown and Walla Walla. A few years in the making, the project will shift traffic to the new segment in late May or early June.
The cost of the project is $22 million. Ramirez said the old highway section will be given back to Walla Walla County and will become an alternate route.
Those traveling to and from Umatilla, Oregon, also will encounter bridge work on the Interstate 82 bridge over the Columbia River. Work, which starts this fall, includes painting the underside of the bridge and repairing joints on the bridge deck.
Eastbound traffic will shift to the westbound lanes. Work will wrap up in fall 2025. The work is projected to cost $20 million.
Visitors to Hermiston will pass through a construction zone as North First Place is in the process of being rebuilt between Hermiston and Elm avenues. The $4.5 million project will include significant roadway, walkway and utility upgrades.
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