On November 2, 2017 the City of Wenatchee, and its partners, Port of Douglas County, Chelan County, Port of Chelan County, Douglas County, Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council, and LINK Transit submitted a request to the United States Department of Transportation for a $149.9 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to finalize funding for the $251 million Apple Capital Loop project (the Loop) in the Wenatchee Valley. The INFRA grant will leverage $101 million from local, state, and other sources already committed to improvements on the 11 mile loop that parallels the well-known non-motorized Apple Capital Loop Trail. The grant application capitalizes on previously committed Washington State Department of Transportation projects funded by the State Connecting Washington program.
The INFRA grant will fund a network of projects on the Loop designed to bring a safe, reliable transportation system, and access to available lands, for the Wenatchee Valley’s agricultural businesses, emerging industries, residents and visitors. The projects include:
• Upgrades and enhancements to North Wenatchee Avenue, including construction of a rail underpass along McKittrick Street to eliminate conflicts between traffic and rail movement. The N. Wenatchee Avenue improvements include a new roundabout to ease congestion and safety issues at the Easy Street – US 2 Intersection.
• Construction of a new 2.3 mile bypass of N. Wenatchee Avenue to allow movement of freight, transit and traffic moving through the City. This project also includes a new pedestrian bridge RR overpass connecting to the Columbia River pipeline bridge to complete the non-motorized trail connection between South Wenatchee and the Apple Capital Loop Trial.
• New on/off ramps and interchanges from US 2 and SR 28 to access Wenatchi Landing, a 280-acre greenfield area in Douglas County supporting the Wenatchi Landing development area.
• Increase capacity and improve safety of the Sunset Highway (SR 28/East) corridor by adding new lanes, improving existing intersections, adding U-turn capability, and new medians.
City of Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz, says, “the application submitted to USDOT on behalf of the region details the significant national, regional and local benefits from the projects for business, visitors, and residents. Those benefits include reliable movement of freight, fewer accidents, less congestion, and reduced conflicts with the BNSF rail corridor.”
Jeff Wilkens with the Chelan Douglas Transportation Council commented, “This could be a win-win for the entire region, a great example of what is possible when our communities work together as one Valley.”
Steve King, Wenatchee’s Economic Development Director outlined benefits to housing and development--- “Our Valley is facing a scarcity of housing and lands for new commercial development. These projects will bring safe, reliable access to Wenatchee waterfront lands, allow for redevelopment of areas destroyed in the Sleepy Hollow fires, and open important new areas for housing and growth.” Steve added “We see that downtown Wenatchee, the entire Wenatchee Valley, Washington State, and the nation will benefit from these improvements.”
Lisa Parks, Executive Director Port of Douglas County commented on the importance of the SR 28/East Corridor and US 2 projects, “The SR 28 corridor is increasingly congested and prone to accidents. These projects will increase the corridor’s capacity and improve safety. Significantly, the new on/off ramps and intersections from US 2 will bring new business and housing Our Valley – a win for the entire region”
Wenatchee Police Chief Steve Crown reiterated the importance of the projects to improve emergency response and the lessons from recent wildfires… “The Sleepy Hollow fires taught us how difficult it is to respond to emergencies and evacuate citizens with only two points of entry and exit from Wenatchee. This project will construct a new exit/entry enabling quicker emergency response times, and safe evacuation if necessary”
The region will be competing against projects from across the nation for the grant; however, local officials are confident that the integrated approach, widespread support from the community, coupled with the benefits to the region’s transportation network position the request favorably. Grants will be awarded in spring 2018.