The Hermiston Street Department had a busy year in 2019, completing two large-scale projects from its Capital Improvement Plan and beginning work on two others.
The city replaced the S. First Street Bridge and resurfaced W. Hermiston Avenue. The next projects on the Capital Improvement Plan list are paving E. Theater Lane and realigning the N.W. Geer and N.W. Harper intersection.
Work on Capital Improvement Plan projects is funded through two sources of revenue – the utility franchise fee and the city’s portion of the statewide gas tax.
Franchise fees, paid by utilities for use of the city’s right of way, collected about $450,000 in additional revenue after the city council approve a 33-percent increase in 2017.
The city of Hermiston doesn’t charge any gas tax of its own. It received $230,000 in 2019 through the state’s increased $0.04 per gallon statewide tax, and will receive an estimated additional $120,000 per year from the state’s next phase of the gas tax increase of $0.02 per gallon to begin Jan. 1.
“We want to be very strategic about how to invest the increased gas tax revenues which we knew would be coming our way as a result of the Legislature’s 2017 gas tax increases,” said City Manager Byron Smith. “That’s why we didn’t simply absorb those funds to pay for business as usual, but we chose to program those dollars for specific capital improvement projects which have been needed for many years.”
The city has committed to spending any additional revenue gained through franchise fees and statewide gas tax funds on Capital Improvement Plan projects and other high-priority work that isn’t part of regular maintenance.
Hermiston spent a total of nearly $1.8 million on street projects and upkeep in 2019, including overlays on W. Highland Ave. and Harper Road that are part of routine upkeep and maintenance.
Completed Capital Improvement Plan projects since adoption of the plan in 2017 include:
- Newport Ave. Reconstruction. Four blocks surrounding Newport Park were fully re-built, including S.E. 5th and S.E. 6th between E. Hurlburt and E. Newport, as well as two blocks of E. Newport between S.E. 5th and S.E. 7th. The project costs $183,770 and was completed in spring 2018
- 1st Street Bridge Replacement. The bridge across the Maxwell Canal was replaced and widened, making room for sidewalks. The bridge deck was cracking and maintenance costs exceeded the cost of total replacement. The project cost $318,000 and was completed in spring 2019
- Hermiston Ave. Overlay. Hermiston Avenue was resurfaced between N. 1st Place and N.W. 10th Street, including replacement of damaged sidewalks and underground water and wastewater utilities in the downtown core. Work was completed in fall 2019 with final invoices yet to be tallied. The contracted amount for the project was $597,787
Projects in the works include:
- E. Theater Lane Development. Work has begun to replace gravel roads with asphalt between N.E. Eighth and N.E. 10th streets. The project will develop two travel lanes to facilitate motorist movement throughout the area, with adjoining infill paving, curbs, gutter, and sidewalk to be developed privately in coordination with adjoining properties. The project is expected to cost $630,000 and be completed in early 2020.
- N.W. Geer/Harper Realignment. The three-way intersection of N.W. Geer Road, W. Harper Road, and N. First Place, which also includes a Union Pacific rail line, will be reconstructed to improve traffic and pedestrian access and repair depressed areas in the roadway. The long-term project is in the planning phase and is expected to cost $1.5 million over four years, with a completion date in 2022.