By Don Nelson
The funding gap for completion of a pedestrian underpass below the Chewuch River Bridge has been closed and the project now has enough financial support to move forward, Winthrop Town Planner Rocklynn Culp reported to the town council last week.
In a memo to the council, Culp said that the Okanogan County Transportation Committee — a group made up of staff representatives from the county and its municipalities that allocates federal funds for local projects — has agreed to the town’s request for more funding to meet the anticipated costs of the underpass project. The committee authorized up to $155,000 in additional funds, she said.
In addition, Culp said, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) indicated that it will provide some additional funding for the project, which requires the agency’s approval.
Earlier, Culp told the council that WSDOT has required that the underpass project absorb the costs of replacing the rip rap (also known as scour protection) under the bridge — something the town had not originally anticipated. Additionally, the town must account for potential damage to fish species in the river during construction of the underpass.
“The good news is that our cost overrun is not as high as we initially thought due to the fact that we can reuse a significant amount the rip-rap that is there,” Culp said in her memo. “The challenge is that we won’t be able to fully estimate the costs associated with the environmental review and mitigation until we determine what level of permitting is going to be required.”
The state-administered, federally financed underpass below the north end of the bridge is intended to relieve pedestrian/vehicle traffic conflicts at the nearby four-way stop, and to eventually be part of a proposed Riverwalk along the downtown side of the Chewuch River.
In other business at its meeting last week, the council agreed to solicit the services of a real estate firm to help it sell surplus property on Horizon Flats Road.
The council also agreed to set a date in the near future for a retreat to discuss major issues facing the town. The meeting will be open to the public.
Info about Okanogan County Fire District 6 annexation proposal
The Town of Winthrop will host an informational open house about the proposed annexation of the town by Okanogan Fire District 6, from 6 – 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Winthrop Barn. The proposed annexation will be on the Feb. 14 ballot. For more information, call 996-2320.