A project more than a decade in the making is in the final stretches as bids for construction of an overpass from Pioneer Street to the other side of the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad is out to bid.
The Port of Ridgefield announced that on Oct. 9 it had received the last approvals by local, state and federal agencies allowing the big process to commence. Released on Oct. 16, the bids are due by Nov. 13 with awarding two weeks later if a qualified bidder has one at or below the project budget of $8 to $11 million.
The port announcement estimated that the overpass would be operable by the end of 2020.
The Port of Ridgefield has been working on the project in some capacity since the early 2000s, the release stated. Port commission chair Scott Hughes was pleased to see the final phase move forward.
“Due to the many accidents and deaths on the tracks in and around Ridgefield, we’ve sought and secured funding and support for it for around 20 years,” Hughes said in the announcement. “The Port of Ridgefield has kept at it for the safety of our citizens who recreate on the river and now enjoy the clean and beautiful Ridgefield waterfront.”
Design and permitting from the city for the final phase are already complete, the announcement noted. It will tie together already completed approaches at the West end of Pioneer Street and one on the other side of the railroad between Mill and Division streets.
When the overpass is complete the existing at-grade railroad crossings at Division and Mill streets will be closed to regular traffic, though Division Street will allow for emergency access. The port has asked for $5 million of federal funding through U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office for a pedestrian overpass project on Division Street, though until such a project was complete the only foot access across the tracks will be via the overpass.
The announcement stated that $7.8 million in state funding and $2 million in federal funding allocated by the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council came in for the project in 2015, with an additional $900,000 through a U.S. Department of Transportation Railroad Safety Grant.
Upon completion of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass, the two existing rail crossings in Ridgefield – one at Division Street and the other at Mill Street – will be closed, although Division Street will be opened in the event of an emergency. Pedestrian access to the waterfront will be limited to the Pioneer Street overpass until such time as the Port of Ridgefield is able to secure funds and construct a pedestrian overpass on Division Street. The port earlier submitted a $5 million funding request for this work through U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office for inclusion in the next federal transportation budget.
Funding for the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project has come from several sources. In 2015 the port secured $7.8 million in state funding and $2 million in federal Surface Transportation funding through Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council (RTC). In early 2017 the port was awarded $900,000 from a U.S. Department of Transportation Railroad Safety Grant. The remaining dollars for the project were provided by the port and others.