Soap Lake seeks resident input on street repairs

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SOAP LAKE — Soap Lake’s city streets need a lot of work.

According to Mayor Raymond Gravelle, the little town just north of Ephrata has some of the worst streets in the state.

“We’re in the bottom five in the state,” Gravelle said. “The (Washington State) Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) likes to help us.”

Thanks to some recent grants, Soap Lake is going to be able to repair about four blocks of Ginkgo Street — from Second Avenue to Lakeshore Drive — this year.

And residents are going to get a say in what those repairs should look like.

According to Gravelle, the city has about $865,000 in grants from the TIB and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (to help cover street repairs from the horrific winter of 2016-17) to repair “four long blocks” of Gingko Street. However, the TIB is requiring Soap Lake to redesign and narrow Ginkgo Street as part of the project.

“Soap Lake has some pretty wide streets,” Gravelle said. “We want community input on this.”

Soap Lake residents are invited to a public forum on Saturday at the Soap Lake High School library beginning at 10 a.m. Gravelle said lunch will be provided, and the library has been reserved until 3 p.m. if the meeting needs to last that long.

The meeting, which will be led by engineering firm Grey and Osborne, will focus on what good street design looks like, and then solicit ideas from participants for narrowing Ginkgo Street.

“We’re looking forward to some creative, out-of-the-box ideas from citizens, and then we’ll see what’s practical and affordable,” Gravelle said.

The mayor said the city hopes to have a final design approved and put out to bid by February, with work on the street beginning in spring or early summer, and completed by the fall.

Gravelle said the west side of Soap Lake has very wide north-south streets, likely because city founders wanted to make sure residents on those streets could have an unobstructed view.

“We think they wanted to preserve view corridors of the lake and the coulee,” he said.

It’s one of several major projects that will require flying dirt, poured concrete and cured asphalt this year in Soap Lake, Gravelle said. In addition to Ginkgo Street, a portion of Division Street is being redone, and the city has received roughly $8.9 million in funding to make some long-needed improvements to its water and sewer systems.

“The work’s been deferred for decades,” Gravelle said. “And this should take care of things for the next 20 years.”

All told, Gravelle said there’s at least $10 million in construction that will take place in Soap Lake this year.

“We’re always excited when we get funding for streets,” he said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at

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