The long series of delays on the State Route 14 reconstruction project appear to be just about over. The awarding of a contract for the project appears imminent, with construction on target to begin in March.
The project is a major one. Included will be repaving -- with some areas of widening -- of SR 14 from the Hood River Toll Bridge to the eastern city limits of Bingen. From the bridge to Willow Street in Bingen, a sidewalk will be added on the south side of the highway. On the north side, a sidewalk will be installed from McDonald's to Willow Street. Sidewalks will be redone on both sides of SR 14 within the downtown business district.
Also planned: modern "streetscaping" in the downtown core: from Willow to Maple Street on the south side of the highway; and from Willow to Cherry Street on the north. That includes coordinated new benches, light poles, trash cans, and landscaping.
In addition, a new sidewalk will be constructed from Cherry to the Big River Diner on the north side of the road.
According to Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel, a total of 11 bids were received for the Bingen highway project. The sealed bids were opened in Vancouver on Feb. 6, with the low bidder turning out to be from Tri-State Construction of Portland.
Tri-State's bid for the job was $4,399,120, and that pleased city officials.
"The engineer's estimate for the work was $4,415,000," said Mayor Prigel. "So it was slightly below that."
Prigel said he anticipated the bid for the road project would be awarded to Tri-States at the Feb. 18 meeting of the Bingen City Council.
Prigel noted that Tri-States has a solid record of experience from working on road projects.
"It's a big company the Washington Department of Transportation has dealt with quite a lot," Prigel said. "The plan at this point is to award the bid at the next council meeting. Sometime in March, the construction should be starting. At least it's moving."
Plans call for the north side of the downtown area to be completed first, including the sidewalks and new "pedestrian-friendly" crosswalks.
Prigel said he anticipates the construction crew will start at the Hood River Toll Bridge and work east toward downtown, while another crew works west from downtown.
Motorists should expect occasional lane closures during the work.
In a related move, the White Salmon City Council unanimously approved construction of the SR 14 "wastewater collection laterals project."
The project calls for the placement of nine pipeline conduits under SR 14 that are intended to eventually carry wastewater from the city's waterfront property. Eight-inch PVC pipes will be put in place during construction on SR 14 to avoid additional disruption later.
The "laterals" will go under the highway at different sites, according to White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen, to cover expected development on the south side of the highway. The laterals can be tapped later as needed, without having to disturb SR 14.
The cost is expected to be about $60,000.
"We'll put them in now, because it'll be 10-15 years before we could make cuts in SR 14 [due to state regulations], and you don't want to do that anyway," he explained. "There will be several crossings strategically located, given the lots down there. Each crossing can serve two lots."
According to White Salmon Public Works Director Wil Keyser, the contractor handling the highway construction is likely to also take on placing the pipelines.
Holen said a main sewerage trunk line is eventually planned. The line would parallel the north side of SR 14.
A main trunk line would cost approximately $1.2 million, and is the subject of negotiations with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Yakama Nation, which owns a key parcel along the Columbia River on property within the city of White Salmon. The parcel is being developed as an in-lieu fishing area for tribal members.
"If there is fish-processing at the in-lieu site, that would require sewer service," Holen said. "We're working to see if we can get financing from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the tribes to help pay to put in the sewer line."