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South First Street project a month away from pavement

South First Street in Sunnyside should be paved in about a month, marking a significant milestone in the project.

That was part of an update provided to the Sunnyside City Council last night, Monday, by public works director Jim Bridges.

After South First is paved, there will still be work to do on the intersection of South First Street and South Hill Road.

The project has not been without its difficulties.

Bridges reported complaints that the readerboard sign on I-82 at one point indicated that exit 67 was closed rather than conveying road work was in progress.

Bridges said a second readerboard, now located on Lincoln Avenue, will be moved to the South First and South Hill intersection to guide traffic for the Cinco de Mayo Festival.

An impasse with Pacific Power and Light has also affected the street project.

Bridges said Sunnyside will have to eliminate a right turn lane planned near Jack in the Box because Pacific Power will charge $91,000 to move a utility pole. "Pacific Power threw us for a loop," Bridges said of the unexpected funding request.

He said the utility also wants the city to pay $88,000 up front to erect new street lights for South First Street.

Another issue Bridges reported is dust control, or lack of it. He said water has been sprayed over the dusty roads over the weekends, but traffic stirs the dust up again.

Bridges said he will look in to having the contractor water more frequently. Otherwise, he said the city will do the job and charge the contractor.

All of the utilities except for gas have been placed in South First Street so far, Bridges said, noting that gas should be placed in the roadway soon.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock asked Bridges and his staff to keep businesses updated on progress of the project and emphasized that Bi-Mart and others at the South First/South Hill intersection need to have access maintained.

"We need to keep traffic moving through as best as we can," she said.

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