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Port of Warden requesting more funding for bypass road

Staff Writer | February 5, 2024 5:03 PM

WARDEN – Port of Warden Executive Director Pat Millard shared several updates regarding the port’s ongoing industrial bypass road project, primarily that the port will be requesting more funding for the bypass road during the current legislative session. 

Millard said the port will request the funding, likely $2.5 million, through Sen. Judy Warnick’s office, which will submit the request to the Senate Transportation Committee. Millard said she wasn’t sure of the likelihood of being awarded the money.

“I think it's purely going to depend on if they have the money,” Millard said. “I don't know if it's going to be in this session when they will send it on, so maybe the next session.”

The port was originally awarded $2.5 million in Federal Highway Administration Funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 for the road project, according to an April 2023 press release from the Port of Warden. 

The release stated that the project's purpose is to bypass trucks around residential neighborhoods to industrial-zoned properties on the south side of Warden. The road would intersect with State Route 170 next to the Grant County PUD substation and travel south toward property the port has yet to develop. 

“We had kind of a design, but it went through the residential area, and because there's so many trucks involved, companies didn’t want to go through residential areas, so we were able to go through where the PUD is,” Millard said. “But it has to go over the tracks, and Columbia Basin Railroad has finally given us permission to go over the tracks, so that will take us to our south property that we own … We hope to move some industries down there.”

Millard said the project has secured an engineer for the design. Western Pacific Engineering & Surveying was the only company to respond to the port’s notifications and requests for services. 

“The design will come and then we'll go on to the construction after that…It could be a while, but we've been working on this for a long time. It's probably been about three years,” Millard said. “We decided we needed to do something in order to open that land up for future development.”

Millard also provided an update on the original $2.5 million the port was awarded, 13% of which has to be matched by the port. 

“For the $2.5 million, we have gotten approval from (Washington State Department of Transportation), our person there, to move forward. So we're in the process of doing a sole-source (contract) and consultant agreement,” Millard said. “Once we get those done, they will go back to our person at WSDOT and be approved, and then we will move forward to the next step, which is probably getting the funds secured … We have the funding; we just have to go through the steps.”

Millard said it is too early to tell how long the design and construction processes will take for the road project, or predict when the project will be finished. She said it is taking longer than expected, but the port is still doing well in the meantime. 

“We're making progress,” she said. “It's just slow.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.

    Exterior of the Port of Warden’s offices, located off State Route 170 as it enters Warden. The port will request more funding for an industrial bypass road that will intersect with 170 and lead to the port’s southern property.