Kalama’s Tidewater Drive waterline replacement project moves forward Washington

KALAMA — After nearly three years of legal delays, the project to replace the waterline on Tidewater Drive moved forward Thursday, when the Kalama City Council approved purchasing five easements.

The council approved a total of about $35,680 to pay for the easements along Tidewater Drive, south of the Port of Kalama and west of Interstate 5.

Installing a new waterline along Tidewater Drive is part of the larger Robb Road Waterline project, which was set to finish in 2018 but delayed due to litigation, according to a summary in the city’s 2021 annual report. The property owners rejected the city’s initial proposal, and when negotiations reached an impasse, the city filed for eminent domain, the report stated.

City Attorney Sam Satterfield said Thursday state law restricts what the city can offer for property, which has to align with assessed land value.

After a court hearing was scheduled and delayed multiple times, Satterfield settled the agreement directly with the property owners, said City Administrator Adam Smee. The city “would always prefer to reach an amicable agreement” when infrastructure crosses private property and is committed to restoring the property’s condition to as close to original as possible, Smee said.

Next week, Satterfield and Public Works Director Kelly Rasmussen are meeting with property owners to sign over the easements and review the project, Rasmussen said.

The new line will create a looped water system, allowing the city to provide water via two different connections, Rasmussen said.

“It has been needed for years. We were able to start it but not, unfortunately, finish until now,” he said. “It will be a great addition to the water system in supplying reliable fire flow and potable drinking water to the residents in that area.”

Rasmussen said the current limited fire flow hampers growth in south port, which includes Temco grain terminal, Somarakis manufacturing and other businesses.

The city budgeted $350,000 for the project and expects it to come under budget because the public works crew will be installing the pipe, Rasmussen said. Construction should begin at the end of August and take about three weeks to complete, he said.

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