Wenatchee city council held a public hearing for their $108-million Confluence Parkway project, with many residents voicing concerns about the highway's potential environmental impacts.

The Confluence Parkway project includes a 2.5-mile bypass on the north end of Wenatchee, along with a new vehicle bridge that connects US 2 and US 97 over the Wenatchee River.

The bypass would be located between Hawley Street and SR 97A, alongside the Apple Capital Loop Recreation Trail.

The City of Wenatchee was recently given the go-ahead to spend $83 million out of the federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant, and start design work with technical advising firm Jacobs Solutions.

In Dec. 2022, the city received the Environmental Assessment and the Individual Section 4(f) Evaluation for this project.

In Executive Services Director Laura Gloria’s presentation on the Environmental Assessment, she detailed the city’s plan to acquire land from Confluence State Park, Horan Natural Area, and Apple Capital Loop Recreation Trail.

Other design aspects listed in Gloria’s presentation included a pedestrian pathway alongside the highway, adding noise walls to conceal traffic noise, and relocating wetland areas near the project area.

East Wenatchee residents Emily Fogle and Natalie Williams both said they are frequent visitors to the Apple Capital Loop Recreation Trail and questioned the location of the pedestrian pathway.

Williams also noted concerns on debris, noise, and excessive carbon monoxide exposure.

Wenatchee resident Ryan Lefler asked the city to consider alternatives that would not impact the Horan natural area and questioned the effectiveness of their strategy to demolish and move natural areas around the highway.

Biologist Susan Ballinger suggested that the city issue an Environmental Impact Statement that lists possible adverse effects to the environment, which would be more effective than an Environmental Assessment.

Randy Lewis came as a representative for the P’Squosa (Wenatchi) community, stating that the project cuts through an important cultural landmark. Lewis asked the city to communicate with the Wenatchi community and other local tribal communities throughout this process.

Wenatchi Wear owner Mary Big-Bull Lewis supported her uncle’s statement on maintaining contact with Wenatchi tribal members, and to prioritize preserving cultural landmarks and endangered fish populations within the Wenatchee Valley.

“I understand that there’s individuals that own property but we live on stolen land,” Mary Big-Bull Lewis said. “These are opportunities for the City of Wenatchee to partner with Chelan-Douglas Land Trust to help preserve these lands”

Leavenworth resident and Biologist Lisa Foster said she has significant concerns about this project impacting the Horan natural area, including neighboring fish and wildlife species, the wetlands, and tribal relations.

“This project will forever impact the only place in town where community members can easily access solitude in nature,” Foster said.

Earhart’s Collision and Automotive Service representative, Jimmy Holman, said he wanted answers for the proposed highway location, who explained that the current design would cut off access to their business and shut them down.

Wenatchee resident Paul Schmidt said this project would help relieve traffic congestion for the north end of Wenatchee and that it seemed like the city was trying their best to address everyone's concerns.

Residents can submit their written comments either by email or to P.O. box 519 in Wenatchee by Jan. 31, at 5 p.m.

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