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South First Street project hits a snag

The Sunnyside City Council this past Monday night learned of a possible delay concerning the start of the mammoth South First Street reconstruction project.

Representatives from the engineering firm Gray & Osborne, who are overseeing the design phase of the project, informed Council about some possible delays with the initial construction phase. The problem, explained Paul Soboleski, project manager, has to do with the Corps of Engineers taking over possible jurisdiction of a drainage ditch that will need to be encased along South First Street. Soboleski explained due to a recent court ruling the Corps of Engineers may elect to take jurisdiction of Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District (SVID) joint drain ditch 33.4, which runs along South First Street. Soboleski said an issue concerning jurisdiction could arise because precedent was set with a water rights case that SVID settled over a year ago.

The South First Street improvement project, said Soboleski, could be delayed if the Corps of Engineers comes out on top of any battle for water rights over the drainage ditch. The reason being is that the Corps of Engineers would require the city to submit an additional set of paperwork referred to as a JARPA, which could cost between an additional $5-$10,000 and two to three months of time. The catch, said Soboleski, is the JARPA can't be completed until the final design drawings are in place. This would not allow the city to meet its deadline to begin construction of encapsulating the drainage ditch during the irrigation off-season. The city had been planning to begin encasing the drainage ditch this fall or early winter, starting road construction in March 2005.

"It is not something that was ever anticipated," said Soboleski.

Soboleski said he will be looking into the matter more.

Soboleski said the city will also need to be seeking more funds in addition to the $1.4 million Sunnyside received in funding through a direct appropriation from the Federal Highway Administration. Soboleski said the city will need anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million more to complete the project because of additional costs. The city will be looking for additional funding from the state transportation improvement board.

Gray & Osborne recently completed a geotechnical study of the soil along South First Street. Soboleski said the study found that stormwater will not be able to be disposed of through infiltration become of the quality of the soil. Soboleski said alternative methods will be required for stormwater disposal.

Ron Cameron, a senior transportation engineer at Gray & Osborne, made a report to Council identifying the need for a roundabout intersection design at the South Hill Road intersection, and a signalized intersection design at the Lincoln Avenue intersection, to help accomodate the projected amount of traffic along South First Street in the next 20 years.

Gray & Osborne is looking to schedule one more public meeting on the South First Street project in late July or early August, on either a Tuesday or a Thursday.

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