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Sunnyside receives $2.3 million construction grant

This past Monday, Sept. 10, the Sunnyside City Council amended its 2007-2012 six-year transportation improvement program to allow for a $2.3 million grant it received from the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments.

The money will go towards construction on the South First Street expansion project.

Sunnyside Public Works Director Jim Bridges said the project will include rebuilding South First Street north of I-82 to Lincoln Avenue. The project will extend approximately 600 feet east of the Lincoln Avenue and South First intersection. The surface on South Hill Road from Guernsey Street to South First Street will also be rebuilt, including approximately 300 feet of road east of the South First Street and South Hill Road intersection.

Bridges said plans include curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm drains, utility adjustments, a traffic light at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and South First Street and a roundabout for the intersection of South First Street and South Hill Road.

So far the city has received $1.4 million from the Federal Highway Administration, $1 million from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board and now the $2.3 million from the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, a grant the city had to apply for.

"We're very happy," Bridges said of receiving the grant.

He explained the money is surface transportation program dollars and every city in Washington used to get a specific amount of dollars for projects. Problem was, he said, some cities weren't spending the money.

Governor Gregoire decided she wanted the money to go to active projects, so she created a competitive grant application process for the funds. Sunnyside applied and was successful.

So far the city has spent $1.2 million on engineering designs, environmental studies, right-of-way acquisition and laying pipe in the drain that runs along South First Street.

There isn't a timeline for the money to be spent and Bridges said construction cannot begin until all property necessary for right-of-way has been acquired by the city and certified by WSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

The city will receive $591,564 this year and the remainder of the $2.3 million in 2008.

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