Bridge replacement

The bridge on Rose Street and Third Avenue over Mill Creek is planned for replacement, pending grant funding, in 2021.

Improvements to intersections, roadways, pedestrian crossings, bridges, utilities and the wastewater treatment plant are planned by the city of Walla Walla for 2021-’22.

The Walla Walla City Council reviewed infrastructure projects coming down the pipeline for next year and beyond during a work session Monday.

Briefed by Public Works staff on large construction projects, Council will next conduct a public hearing on the capital facilities plan, allowing residents to speak on the matter virtually, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom, before considering adoption.

“It’s going to be another exciting year 2021, and 2022, so I just ask everybody to be patient as you see the orange signs grow out of the pavement and plan on those detours,” Public Works Director Ki Bealey said.

Replacement of the 108-year-old bridge on Rose Street over Mill Creek is among the major projects.

The Rose Street Bridge Replacement Project on Rose and North Third Avenue over Mill Creek is expected to begin construction in 2021, but uncertainty has swirled over the final portion of grant funding on the improvement, one in a series of bridge projects in the city.

The $5.47 million project is waiting on $1.07 million in federal grant dollars.

“Due to COVID the state has fallen behind on their project delivery,” Bealey said.

“We have been notified to receive 100% grant funding for this project, whether that means it’s the full amount or not. That’s where we are a little bit nebulous, and we have not heard back from the grant funding agencies for this project,” he said.

“If we don’t receive full grant funding for the project, we will likely have to take some debt issuance and use another source of money to repay the loan for that debt.”

Further complicating the timeline is a potential historic designation for the bridge.

“It’s our aspiration to construct in 2021, but it’s very likely we could be looking at a 2022 construction date due to this historic delay,” he said.

The project has been granted $3.64 million in federal dollars already, and $751,957 was allocated from the city budget.

Other bridges up for discussion were Fourth, Fifth and Sixth avenue bridges over Mill Creek. Staff recommends replacement of the Fourth Avenue bridge and removal Fifth and Sixth avenue bridges.

Meanwhile, staff is preparing a virtual open house for residents to give feedback on the recommendation.

“As these are structures that serve the neighborhoods, we would like to get input from those neighborhoods to factor into this discussion,” Bealey said.

Replacement of all three, he said, would be in the neighborhood of $7.5 million.

“We simply can’t afford it,” he said.

He said staff working to gauge truly needed infrastructure. There are currently bridge crossings over Mill Creek at Ninth, Sixth, Fifth, Fourth, Third and Second avenues.

Bealey asked Council to consider whether the city needs all of the crossings, noting the three are falling apart and expensive to replace.

Other projects in the works include pedestrian safety features at six intersections downtown, including on Poplar Street between Avery Street and Sixth Avenue, on Wilbur Avenue and Hobson Street and Second Avenue and Morton Street.

The city will install Americans with Disability Act-compliant ramps, rapid flashing rectangular beacons, curb extensions and other features.

Improvements for three intersections — Poplar and Palouse streets, Palouse and Alder streets and Park and Alder streets — are planned for 2021 and expected to be funded with grants.

The project includes roadway, utility and intersection improvements on Alder and Poplar streets from Merriam to Colville streets.

The project totals $6.65 million, with a $2.5 million grant pending, according to the staff presentation Monday.

“In 2022, we’re looking to construct the second phase of Poplar, which is Colville to Fifth,” Capital Programs Engineer Mike Laughery said.

The second phase costs $4.7 million.

Street improvements on Plaza Way from State Route 125 to Village Way are also expected to begin construction in 2021.

Pavement preservation is planned on Alder Street from Brock Street to Tausick Way, Chestnut Street from Ninth Avenue to 12th Avenue, on Bryant Street from Howard Street to Home Avenue and on School Avenue from Alder to Pleasant streets.

The project is paid for with Transportation Benefit District sales tax, totaling $250,000.

An Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Project is set for 2021 for Park Street, which will add bike lanes and on-street parking.

Additionally, an Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Project is marked to start construction next year on Penrose Avenue and Alvarado Terrace.

In 2022, Balm, Juniper, and a section of Woodlawn streets will see roadway and utility improvements, as well as Cookerly Drive and University, Pearson and South Madison streets.

At East Sumach Street and Sturm Avenue, the city will work to eliminate a dead-end waterline and resolve circulation and pressure problems, according to the staff presentation.

Five water treatment projects are lined up over the next two years. Those include roof repairs and cleaning Water Well No. 6 to fix taste issues, Laughery said.

In 2022, under a half-mile of sewer main replacement will be done, primarily in alleys, Laughery said.

A large lining project for the sewer trunk main is also scheduled that year.

At the wastewater treatment plant, the conversion of existing infrastructure to an industrial waste holding tank is projected for 2021. The first phase of a plant upgrade is slated for the following year, according to the presentation.

Currently, at the Sudbury Landfill, the city is involved in a master plan and layout of the landfill’s future to determine needed upgrades. Still, replacement of entrance pavement and restoration of compost pad pavement is booked for now.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at chloelevalley@wwub.com or 509-526-8326.

Chloe LeValley covers the cities of Walla Walla and College Place as well as agriculture and the environment in the Walla Walla Valley. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and joined the Union-Bulletin's team in October 2019.