WATERVILLE — In the next few weeks, Douglas County will be seeking bids to pave, widen and straighten McGinnis Canyon Road.
“It’ll just be nice when we get that curve straightened, and we’ll have pavement all the way from East Wenatchee to Waterville over Badger Mountain,” Douglas County Commissioner Dale Snyder.
“There’s a lot of people who live up on Badger Mountain who come to work in Waterville every day.”
The $3.5 million project is relatively small in length — 2.39 miles of dirt road between Badger Mountain Road and Baseline Road, near Waterville.
But it’s the shortest route one of two roads between East Wenatchee — Douglas County’s biggest population center — and Waterville, its county seat. Yet this small stretch of the road has never been paved.
It’s been talked about for decades, funded for three years, and is now a top priority on the county’s list of paving projects, Snyder said.
Snyder said it’s a difficult stretch of roadway, coming down through a canyon with steep grades. There’s a 90-degree corner where they’ve seen several accidents over the years, and the north-facing slope is covered with timber, so the roadway doesn’t see the sun for several months.
The project is also important for Waterville.
County Engineer Doug Bramlette said parts of the road that are now at a 15 percent grade will be reduced to 12 percent or less. The road will be widened from 24 feet to 30 feet, and guardrails will be installed.
Bramlette said it will be a safer route for school buses. Link Transit has identified it as a possible route for public buses, he added.
“It’s going to be an improvement. A big improvement,” said Waterville Mayor Royal DeVaney. Everybody’s tickled to death.”
The town signed off on a right-of-way through its property a year ago, he said. During certain times of year, it’s dangerous. He said he doesn’t know anyone who’s against it.
Snyder said lack of funds was always the biggest problem. Part of the recent delay came in getting a right-of-way easement through federal Bureau of Land Management property. The county also worked with several other property owners for easements.
Initially, the county had hoped to put the road around a farm which is now divided by the road. But the county wasn’t able to get enough funds at this time for that project, which also will require some wetlands mitigation, he said. “Eventually, that is our plan,” he added.
Funds are now allocated by the County Road Administration Board.
Snyder said he expects the project to be advertised in the next two or three weeks. The improvements should be complete in August or September, he said.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512