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It’s big, it’s new and it’s long overdue.

This summer, crews will begin transitioning into the newly built Kittitas County Public Works Upper County road facility, located adjacent to the Upper County transfer station between Roslyn and Cle Elum. Construction on the facility began last summer and is 95% complete. The facility will replace the previous one on the east end of Cle Elum, which was built in the early 1940s.

Public Works Director Mark Cook said the property was acquired in 2016 from a local church and said the location next to the transfer facility was a perfect match for the department’s needs.

“We are able to swap crews and equipment, so it’s very efficient,” he said. “We’re planning on doing the same thing in Lower County.”

Cook said the location on state Route 903 is ideal in that it provides convenient access to most Upper County roads.

“We can go numerous ways to get to various I-90 exits,” he said. “It just makes so much sense for us to be here, as we serve Salmon la Sac and Roslyn, all the way up to Hyak.”

Although there were initial concerns about a traffic impact on Cle Elum-Roslyn High School, located across the street, he said his department educated the community on the differing schedules between when road crews depart for their assignments and that of the educational schedule.

“The way we run our business, we leave early in the morning and come back late in the day,” he said. “We’re out of the peak hours of traffic that impact the school and whatnot.”

Final cost for the facility was approximately $5.2 million, funds Cook said came from the county’s road fund.

“By state law, public works programs are required to plan for replacements,” he said. “What we wind up doing is we’ll buy a piece of equipment and then we’ll rent it back. As we use it, we pay a rent on it. Part of that rent has a replacement element to it. Much like that, we set money away aside to do facility replacements. In the case of this, it’s taken 50 years to generate enough money to build the new facility.”

The state-of-the-art facility includes increased storage for vehicles and equipment, as well as pull-through service bays, a benefit Cook said will extend to all the department’s equipment. The design of the maintenance facility makes it so that all of the department’s newest equipment will fit and can be loaded in on trailers without having to take it off to service.

Due to the expanded size of the facility, Cook said the department is also looking at the possibility of hosting a staff member as a duty station.

“That way, Upper County residents don’t have to go all the way to Ellensburg for service,” he said.

The facility also hosts an expanded sand storage shed that offers protection from the elements and an administrative building that has the newest technology for holding meetings. Cook said the administrative center offers the ability to host consultants from the West Side, as well as providing a space for the Kittitas County Board of County Commissioners to meet when they visit Upper County.

“With the way this center is wired for teleconferencing methods today, it gives the board the ability to use the room,” he said. “This is some of the newest construction in years for the county.”

Once crews transition out of the former facility in Cle Elum, Cook said the department is looking at options to potentially exchange the property with the county for another of equal value. Possible uses for the old facility include a Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office Upper County Search and Rescue detachment.

Kittitas County construction manager Darren Case said his crews are very excited to move into the facility, a transition he said will make life much easier on them during peak season.

“Right now, if something’s wrong with their equipment they tend to go down to Ellensburg to get it fixed,” he said. “Now we have a facility here that’s state-of-the-art, which means we might have people from Ellensburg coming up here to get their equipment worked on. I think they’re excited to be able to have room to get their work done up here.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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