Monday, November 29, 2021

Developer eyes second crossing for Moses Lake

Staff Writer | May 25, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — With the Mae Valley area growing rapidly and commercial trucks needing another way out to the Port of Moses Lake, one that bypasses town, just about everyone agrees there needs to be a second way to get across Moses Lake.

But that project would be such a huge — and costly — undertaking, no one wants to do much more than think about it.

During an online meeting of the Port of Moses Lake Commission on Monday, Milton Miller, facilities director for the port, told commissioners a private developer approached the port and said it is willing to front the money to apply for a state grant that would fund a new study to figure out where the best place to put a second lake crossing would be and how much it would cost.

The last study, done in 2009, estimated the cost of a second lake crossing at around $210 million, Miller told commissioners.

“This is a 15-20 year project, and we need to start somewhere,” Miller said.

“This is not going to be built tomorrow,” Miller added, noting that any study might say a second lake crossing simply would not be feasible.

Miller did not name the company looking at paying for the study grant application.

Moses Lake City Manager Allison Williams said the city’s comprehensive plan, which is currently being revised, envisions at least one, and possible a second, new lake crossing, but has no details on what that project would look like.

“The need is out there, and the comprehensive plan will show it,” she told the Columbia Basin Herald.

“There have not been recent conversations on this between the city and port,” Williams added. “My understanding is the county is the lead agency on this.”

Grant County Public Works Director Sam Castro said the three Grant County commissioners have not directed his office to be the lead agency in any second crossing of Moses Lake, and that all of the stakeholders involved, including the Washington State Department of Transportation, need to be involved.

“If a connector from I-90 to Highway 17 is built, we need to get the state involved, regardless of whether it’s in the county or not,” Castro told the Columbia Basin Herald. “To see if it’s feasible, we all need to work together with the state of Washington.”

Port commissioners were OK with the private developer looking to apply for grant funding, so long as the port didn’t spend any money and wasn’t looking to get into the road or bridge business.

“I like the idea of going ahead and looking at it, but would rather the city and the county take charge,” said Commissioner Stroud Kunkle.

(This article has been updated with corrected information.)