Rachel Hansen | Mar 06, 2023
Chelan PUD commissioners are considering a land exchange agreement with the City of Wenatchee that attempts to strike a balance between regional transportation needs and stewardship of public lands. (Audio starts around 00:20:00 on the board recording.)
The City of Wenatchee’s Confluence Parkway project is a proposed 2.5-mile bypass to alleviate traffic congestion along North Wenatchee Avenue. The two-way arterial would run along the edge of Horan Natural Area and Confluence State Park, which are owned by Chelan PUD.
The land exchange would trade a long, narrow parcel of land along the western edges of Horan Natural Area and Confluence State Park – about 5 acres total owned by the PUD – for roughly equivalent property from the City.
The draft agreement includes a range of mitigations intended to address concerns brought forward by more than 1,000 public comments, and a year of due diligence. The measures include:
- Noise abatement: The City will build a noise wall and earthen berms with landscaping in areas where road noise is expected to have the greatest impact.
- Trail improvements: The City will reroute the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail away from Hawley Street and the railroad tracks for better safety and user experience. The new pedestrian bridge will be about twice as wide as the existing one.
The draft agreement also commits the City to reimburse the utility to relocate two water wells that support Confluence State Park, and replace state park staff housing that is in the path of the proposed roadway. In most cases, the city will cover the relocation of electrical transmission and distribution lines in coordination with roadway construction.
Several people spoke in favor of Confluence Parkway, citing reduced traffic accidents, improved response times for first-responders, better options for bus and bike commuters, and improvements to the Loop Trail.
Commissioners are expected to deliberate and vote March 20 on the draft agreement, which must also be approved by the Wenatchee City Council.
Chelan PUD is one of several key agencies involved in the review process. Over the next year, the project will require approval from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.