The City of Wenatchee is nearing its goal of building a bridge and bypass near the Apple Capital Loop Trail and Confluence State Park, otherwise known as the Confluence Parkway project.

The city council approved an agreement with the Chelan Public Utilities District (PUD) to swap a narrow patch of land along the state park and the Horan Natural Area in exchange for city property that's roughly the same size.

At last night's council meeting, Mayor Frank Kuntz said he's happy with how the PUD and the city came together to get this deal done.

"I can tell you they've been working on this for the better part of two years and really got to it about six months ago and have been cranking pretty hard and I think this is as good as it's gonna get for us," Mayor Kuntz said. "So hats off to the PUD staff and our staff. They did a remarkable job."

A number of items still need to clear before the Confluence Parkway project can get underway such as approval from federal environmental regulators.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal regulatory process that evaluates the relevant environmental effects of a project or action such as wildlife, air, noise, and historic preservation. The group's environment assessment of the Confluence area is expected to be completed this spring.

The city also needs the necessary funding for the project to get started. The project's total cost is estimated to be roughly $177 million with $92 million provided by an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program grant which the city received in 2021.

During last year's legislative session in Olympia, $85 million was included in the state's transportation budget for the project but it was not specifically identified for allocation.

"Getting the funding identified specifically for Confluence Parkway during this session is going to be very important. Also, getting the scheduling for Confluence Parkway to match when the federal funds will be administered is also very important. So I'm working to get both of those things done." 12th District Senator Brad Hawkins said.

If everything goes as planned, the city hopes to break ground in 2025 and have the project completed by 2029 or 2030.

The idea for the project dates back to 2011 when the Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council and its partners developed the North Wenatchee Transportation Master Plan to improve traffic flow in the region's primary bottleneck for commuters, businesses and visitors around the Wenatchee Valley.

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