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Opportunity to fund major street projects presented to council

Sunnyside has a chance to get an extraordinary amount of financing, which might mean the downtown revitalization project and other major street projects could be completed earlier than expected, according to Jeff Louman of Huibregtse, Louman Associates, Inc.

Louman gave a short presentation to the Sunnyside City Council last night. He told the council that due to a quirk in the way surface transportation program funding was provided in the past year, Sunnyside may be able to take advantage and get three-fourths of the costs for several projects the city already has in the works.

He explained that there was about $120 million in funds statewide unexpectedly up for grabs in the spring of 2012. Yakima County managed to get $9 million instead of the usual $3 million. There was still $30 million left over statewide because it was not used.

To take advantage of the possibility of the same thing happening this year, the director of local programs for the WSDOT, Kathleen Davis, told cities and counties to manage projects differently so they would be ready to get the funds if they became available.

Louman provided a spreadsheet to council that showed how the city could arrange projects to obligate funds in a way to be able to get funding immediately when it becomes available.

The projects currently in the works include the downtown revitalization project, the upgrades to the intersection at 16th Street and Yakima Valley Highway and an overlay of Yakima Valley Highway from 16th to the McDonald's restaurant.

Louman also proposed an improvement to the intersection of Sixth Street and Yakima Valley Highway that would include improvements down Sixth Street to Decatur Avenue.

Louman pointed out the projects include water and sewer improvements, which means local matching funds could be provided from the city's utility funds. He said more matching funds could come from a low interest loan from the drinking water state revolving fund.

He said if the city could get the funding, all four projects could be under construction by 2014. Louman made it clear be believes the city can get the funding.

Louman also mentioned other funding sources that Sunnyside may qualify to get. The end result would mean the city may be able to make major improvements in the next few years with a relatively small investment, mostly from funding sources the city can afford to use, he explained.

Louman will return for the City Council workshop meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, to present the current situation with the downtown plans and what the city needs to do to secure funding.

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