West Cashmere Bridge awarded key state grant

State Sen. Brad Hawkins says he is thrilled that the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB) has awarded Chelan County a $3 million grant toward its efforts to complete the West Cashmere Bridge Replacement Project.

The project has now received local, state, and federal appropriations and funding awards of $23 million. Replacing the 86-year-old bridge, which carries Goodwin Road over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line and the Wenatchee River west of Cashmere, is expected to cost between $23 million and $25 million.

The project has long been a high priority with local officials, who worry the U.S. 2/West Cashmere Bridge may fail to the point of closure within a few years. Weight restrictions placed on the bridge for safety reasons already force heavy trucks to move through downtown Cashmere – including hundreds of trucks each week associated with Crunch Pak, the packaged-fruit company that is the city’s largest employer.

“This is a huge win for Chelan County and the Cashmere community. I am very thankful to FMSIB for recognizing the need for this project and to the many people who have helped make this opportunity successful,” says Hawkins, the 12th District senator who was a part of efforts in 2017 to build momentum for the bridge replacement.

A 2017 meeting between “bridge ambassadors” from Cashmere and Chelan County and Senator Curtis King of Yakima (right), then-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, was key to securing support for the US 2/West Cashmere Bridge replacement.

Hawkins credited a meeting between local ambassadors and the Senate and House transportation committee chairs in 2017 as the key to securing a $2 million transportation budget appropriation, outside of a gas-tax package, in the 2017-19 transportation budget.

That local contingent, comprising representatives from Chelan County, city of Cashmere, Cashmere School District, Port of Chelan County, Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council and Crunch Pak, had joined Hawkins at the Capitol to make the case for additional state funding.

The FMSIB, funded through the state transportation budget, awards grants to assist with freight mobility and lessen the movement of freight in communities.

“In the process of advocating for the $2 million funding in 2017, the Senate Transportation Committee chair directed our group to the FMSIB process. I was optimistic about the possibilities and am very thankful the county pursued it wholeheartedly. Congratulations to them. No doubt, this is awesome news,” said Hawkins.