University, Wildcat construction project

The University, Wildcat Way intersection Improvements project is in full swing, complete with one-lane traffic. Sprague St. is closed south to Seventh Avenue. The $1,143,370 project is expected to be completed by Aug. 28.

You might as well just start scouting out alternative routes right now because because the intersection of University Way and Wildcat Way improvement project is underway and traffic is slowing down. Sprague is already closed for the duration.

“Sprague is closed from Seventh to University,” city of Ellensburg engineer Josh Mattson said. “The best access for people that live in that section is off of Sixth Avenue through the alleyways.

“The project itself is widening University Way from Anderson to Ruby and that will give us enough space to put a left-turn lane on University Way. We’ll put in new sidewalks on the south side and a brand new signal light.”

Construction crews waited until the Central Washington University graduation and a time when traffic congestion has less college student traffic. But it’s in full swing now and they’ll try and jump on the $1,143,370 project to get it done by the scheduled Aug. 28 completion date.

“The north-south is not nearly as busy as the east-west. But the intersection north of University Way has a higher traffic volume. I think most of the north-south traffic can be re-directed down other streets,” city manager John Akers said.

Detour signs will guide traffic to Ruby Street and Fifth Avenue. Bicycle traffic on Seventh Avenue will not be impacted, but sidewalks will be closed on Sprague. University Way will be reduced to one lane in each direction. The alignment of Sprague Street to Wildcat Way will also be improved with the project, Mattson said.

“We’re actually trying to get most of the work done before (Kittitas County) Fair week,” Mattson said. “The primary purpose of the project is adding a new left-turn lane on University Way to the south to give us more space and dedicated pedestrian crossing. Shutting down Sprague is a safety thing, so that’s part of the reason we’re doing it this time of year.”

Other city construction

The Palouse to Cascades (formerly known as the John Wayne) Trail extension project from 14th and Alder Street up to 18th Avenue is underway.

“Half of its paved, half of it’s gravel,” Mattson said, “to accommodate the equestrian community to ride horses and the other half is for everybody else, bicycles, hikers and walkers.”

It is a half-mile project that extends the existing trail system, completing the trail segment from 14th Avenue to the south side of 18th Avenue. The 16-foot wide trail consists of eight feet of asphalt and eight feet of gravel and will be landscaped with washed rock, trees, fencing, and an irrigation system. The $370,000 project is partly funded by the Federal Highway Organization, which is paying $315,00 of the project.

The Palouse to Cascades Trail spans nearly 224 miles from Rattlesnake Lake to the Washington-Idaho border north of Tekoa. The Palouse to Cascades Trail is one of the longest rail-trail conversions in the U.S. and crosses Adams, Grant, King, Kittitas, Spokane and Whitman counties.


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