Nothing set in stone on South First Street project


Sunnyside City Engineer Jim Bridges was on hand with several other officials last night at the Sunnyside Community Center. Bridges explained to a small crowd of residents the current status of the South First Street project.

The City of Sunnyside and representatives from Gray & Osborne engineering firm held the final of their public meetings last night concerning the upcoming South First Street improvement project.

A small crowd gathered at the Sunnyside Community Center Wednesday night to hear Sunnyside City Engineer Jim Bridges talk about the South First Street project. Bridges said the city hasn't yet made any final decisions on the design of South First Street.

The South First Street project stems from the work of former Sunnyside City Manager Dave Fonfara. Fonfara was instrumental, with the help of Sen. Patty Murray, in securing $1.4 million from the Federal Highway Administration for the South First Street project.

However, money could be an issue that delays the start of construction on the South First Street project, which is set to begin early next spring, said Bridges.

The South First Street project is expected to cost $2.5 million, he said. The city submitted this week a $1 million grant request from the state Transportation Improvement Board, which funds road projects out of gasoline tax collected. Bridges said the city should find out late this year if it has received the state funding, which will allow for construction to begin on the project.

Bridges added if the city doesn't receive the state funding this cycle it will more than likely have to wait a year to begin construction on the project. Bridges said there is no timeline for the city to spend its $1.4 million federal designation.

One of the main reasons why the city hasn't picked a design for South First Street is that officials are trying to sit down and iron out a design that will be cost conducive for the city to maintain. Bridges said whichever design city officials choose for South First Street, there will be costs to maintain what is done.

Gray & Osborne Project Manager Paul Soboleski cleared up an issue that had been at the forefront of the South First Street Project, concerning the installation of a noise barrier. Soboleski said a noise barrier is not needed in the area of South First Street and, in fact, it might enhance the noise problem.

Bridges and officials from Gray & Osborne were scheduled to meet with Yakima County and Department of Transportation officials today (Thursday). Bridges said discussion will take place around utility relocation and a possible agreement with Yakima County to assist the city in property acquisition.

Bridges said traffic analysis studies for the South First Street project have determined a couple of aspects of the project. Bridges said the signal light will be upgraded around the South First Street and Lincoln Avenue intersection. Bridges added that road improvements will be made to about 500 feet of Lincoln Avenue to help accommodate the new upgrade for the light.

It has been recommended that a round-a-bout be installed at the intersection of South Hill Road and South First Street.

"This is going to be bigger than the ones they have in Kennewick," said Bridges.

Bridges said the design phase for South First Street should be completed later this fall.

Bridges said nothing will really be lost if the city doesn't receive the Transportation Improvement Board funding later this year.

"If they tell us we don't get the money, we will just hold off," said Bridges. "What we have done is not going to go to waste. We want to make sure our dollars are focused so we get the most value."


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