Construction on final phase of Pioneer Street Rail Overpass underway


Port of Ridgefield project expected to be completed no later than Fall 2021

RIDGEFIELD — Construction on the final phase of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project recently got underway in downtown Ridgefield.

Construction on the final phase of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project is underway in downtown Ridgefield. Photo by Mike Schultz
Construction on the final phase of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project is underway in downtown Ridgefield. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Port of Ridgefield envisioned and began its effort to secure the funds required to construct a rail overpass at Pioneer Street in the early 2000s, or as many as 20 years ago. When completed, the overpass will provide safe and guaranteed pedestrian and auto access between downtown Ridgefield and the waterfront, including the port’s 41-acre mixed-use development site. Phases 1 and 2 were completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

“We drilled the first pier on Monday and we’re pouring concrete into that big hole right now,’’ said Laurie Olin, vice president of operations for the Port of Ridgefield. “So, you will start seeing some changes due to the construction that’s going on right now.’’

The Port of Ridgefield envisioned and began its effort to secure the funds required to construct a rail overpass at Pioneer Street in the early 2000s, or as many as 20 years ago. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Port of Ridgefield envisioned and began its effort to secure the funds required to construct a rail overpass at Pioneer Street in the early 2000s, or as many as 20 years ago. Photo by Mike Schultz

The port held an unofficial groundbreaking for the final phase of the project on March 23, which was not open to the public due to stay-at-home orders. The original completion date for the final phase of the project was Summer of 2021, but Olin indicated that might be pushed back slightly due to construction delays related to stay-at-home orders.

“We might be pushing it out a little bit into the Fall (of 2021) because the COVID pandemic has impacted the company doing the girders,’’ Olin explained. “We are pouring the piers now and we have not established exactly when the girders will be arriving.’’

For the duration of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass construction project, for safety purposes the port has closed access to the Mill Street rail crossing and provided a detour.

Construction on the final phase of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project is underway in downtown Ridgefield.

Project history

In November (2019), the Port Commission awarded the contract for the final phase of the Pioneer Street Rail Overpass project to Tapani Inc. of Battle Ground. Tapani’s bid came in at $8,221,448.85, which was within the project’s budget. There were 10 bidders for the contract. This phase of the project includes the aerial span connecting to two access roads constructed earlier by the port.

The project, when completed, will provide safe access to and from the waterfront for motorists and pedestrians. The aerial span will connect to the north and south approach roads built by the port in the earlier, two separate phases. Upon completion of the project, the two existing rail crossings in Ridgefield – one at Division Street and the other at Mill Street – will be closed, although Division Street will be opened in the event of an emergency

When completed, the overpass will provide safe and guaranteed pedestrian and auto access between downtown Ridgefield and the waterfront, including the port’s 41-acre mixed-use development site. Image courtesy of Port of Ridgefield
When completed, the overpass will provide safe and guaranteed pedestrian and auto access between downtown Ridgefield and the waterfront, including the port’s 41-acre mixed-use development site. Image courtesy of Port of Ridgefield

The final phase was due to start Summer of 2017, but was delayed pending approval by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Burlington Northern, the rail line operator. An additional delay occurred in the Spring of 2018 when the port was required to conduct a new wildlife environmental impact study due to the presence of White Tail deer – a threatened species – in the nearby Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Funding for the $11.3 million overpass project has come from several sources.  In 2015, the port secured $7.8 million in state funding, $2 million in federal Surface Transportation funding through Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, and in early 2017 the port was awarded $900,000 from a U.S. Department of Transportation Railroad Safety Grant. The remaining dollars for the project were provided by the port and others.

Traffic is expected to be routed onto the overpass by Summer/Fall 2021. A grand opening celebration and dedication will be held at that time. For more information visit portridgefield.org.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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