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Stakeholders seek funding for bridges in canal widening project

Stakeholders want to find federal funding to help replace or modify 10 bridges on the East Low Canal as part of the canal-widening project.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on November 3, 2017 9:32AM

Stephen McFadden, director of the Adams County Development Council, and Melissa Downes, technical project lead for the Washington Department of Ecology Office of the Columbia River, talk about funding to replace or modify bridges on the East Low Canal system Nov. 2 during the Columbia Basin Development League annual meeting in Moses Lake, Wash.

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press

Stephen McFadden, director of the Adams County Development Council, and Melissa Downes, technical project lead for the Washington Department of Ecology Office of the Columbia River, talk about funding to replace or modify bridges on the East Low Canal system Nov. 2 during the Columbia Basin Development League annual meeting in Moses Lake, Wash.

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MOSES LAKE, Wash. — Stakeholders are seeking millions of dollars in federal support to help widen or replace 10 bridges that cross an Eastern Washington canal system that is part of a massive expansion of the Columbia Basin Project.

Of the 17 bridges on the East Low Canal system, five are adequate, Melissa Downes, technical project lead for the state Department of Ecology’s Office of the Columbia River, said during the Nov. 2 Columbia Basin Development League annual meeting.

The East Columbia Basin Irrigation District has already replaced the Leisle Road bridge and increased the capacity to convey water under the Calloway Road bridge. The Leisle Road Bridge cost $732,000 and the Calloway Road Bridge cost $797,000, Downes said.

Ten remaining bridges need modification or replacement.

The East Low Canal is being widened as part of an effort to replace wells with water from the Columbia River. Nearly 700,000 acres within the federal Columbia Basin Project are irrigated. The league supports completing the 70-year-old project by bringing river water to the remaining 300,000 acres.

The stakeholders will seek federal funding for the 10 bridges, owned by the state or the counties.

“Bridges are a little bit different than the water conveyance system,” said Mike Schwisow, director of government relations for the development league. “They’re not a canal, a siphon or something that carries the water. They’re part of the regional transportation system, so they have a little different characteristic. ... But all of them need to get fixed in order for us to finally fully develop this project.”

The bridges are “pinch points” on the canal system limiting water flow, said Stephen McFadden, director of the Adams County Development Council.

The stakeholders are seeking grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America for the bridges, and employing a consultant to conduct cost-benefit analyses and outline the scope of work to replace the bridges, McFadden said.

Cost estimates for the work range from $8 million to $20 million, McFadden said.

When the DOT issues a call for proposals, stakeholders will have 45 days to submit applications, McFadden said. DOT will provide up to 50 percent of the total cost, and stakeholders will also need to find matching funds.

Downes said the groups will also study the costs and impacts if the bridges are not modified.

An engineering firm may consider using a similar design for bridges that are the same length and require the same replacement parts, instead of repeating design work on each individual bridge, she said.



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