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Six–Year Transportation Improvement Plan passes


January 2, 2020

DAYTON–Director of Public Works Charles Eaton presented the Six-year Transportation Improvement plan for 2020-2025 during the Board of Commissioners of Columbia County (BOCC) meeting on Monday, December 16, 2019. The plan includes three sections: Bridge Inventory, Road Revenue vs. Expenditure Analysis, and the Six-Year Plan that is submitted to Washington State Department of Transportation.

Three bridges, Vernon Smith, Starbuck and Baileysburg, have been deemed structurally deficient. Funding has been received for Vernon Smith and Starbuck. The Baileysburg bridge has been included in the Transportation plan to try to get funding.

In Road Revenue vs. Expenditures Analysis, adjustments were made to stem the sliding tide of the fund balance and level it off from about $708,000 in 2020 to between $280,000 and $290,000 from 2023 to 2025. In this area, Public Works is “leveraged out” and cannot apply for any grants in this area because there are no matching funds available.

The Six-Year Plan was submitted to the State with the following additions: Kellogg Hollow Phase 3, noting that a grant was received for Phase 2; and Whetstone to Highway 12. Public Works recommends that the following projects be removed because there is no way to obtain short-term funding: Lewis Gulch (convert gravel road to paved); McKay-Alto Road (widen, guardrail, ballast, and pave); Turner Road Phase 3 (widen, correct curves, ballast, and pave); and Weinhard Road (convert gravel to pavement.) Next year, the Johnson Hollow Realignment, Smith-Hollow Road; Eckler Road Phase 3, and Tucannon Road Phases 1 and 2 should be added for consideration.

There was one written comment presented orally by Ted Penner. His thoughts were that construction of the Little Goose Dam brought oil roads to the northern part of Columbia County. After the dam was completed, the roads were reverted back to “Farm to Market” roads with major use during wheat harvest. Five years ago, the wind towers changed the road usage to add “home to job” traffic.

Penner is concerned with McKay/Alto Road. The junction is a downhill “Y” with McKay/Alto traffic subject to a stop sign. Existing traffic is ignoring the stop sign. Penner has experienced three “close calls.” One with a loaded straw truck, another with a flat nosed school bus from Walla Walla, and recently a midsized vehicle with two passengers and a driver. He wants this “Y” intersection reconfigured to a “T” configuration. However, in the short term, more signs, rumble strips, and a blinking stop sign would help.

Penner wants this added to the Spot Improvement portion of the Road Construction Budget.


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