Center Parkway Connection Across the Tracks is Gaining Speed - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Center Parkway Connection Across the Tracks is Gaining Speed

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- Long talked about plans to connect Center Parkway in Kennewick and Tapteal Drive in Richland may be on the verge of development.

There are plans to connect the Kennewick and Richland sides of the road.

It's a vision both cities hope to make a reality to boost local business.

Currently the end of Center Parkway in Kennewick is home to a dumpster.

But the cities of Kennewick and Richland, along with local businesses, believe the land should be used for much more than trash.

The connection could bring together not only streets but businesses.

Mark Kerber, manager at the Holiday Inn Express on the Richland side of Center Parkway, said the connection would boost his business.

"It would mean that our guests would actually be within walking distance to a number of places for shopping, restaurants and it would give our customers access to all those businesses that they normally have to drive to. At the same time, businesses would have access to our customers," Kerber said.

The City of Richland is taking on the construction responsibility and after a decade of talk, federal environment approval and design plans, the next step is getting the railroad to give the project the go-ahead.

"It's a good location for a commercial development. It's just we've got to get access to it. This piece is really kind of critical," said Jeffery Peters, City of Richland Transportation and Development Manager.

The Port of Benton and three railroad companies that use the tracks have until May 2nd to approve the proposal.

Then the city would finalize plans and ask for construction bids.

Peters said, if the road is made, commerce will come.

"Developers have not been building there yet because there's other places that are more easily accessible for them. So until access is improved to those properties, it's tough to justify building there." Peters said.

The confusing access to Tapteal Drive businesses has been frustrating for customers.

But the city has persisted with this project because they think it has potential to connect the community to commerce.

The port has signed off on the plans, but if the railroad companies do not approve the city's proposal then it can go to a legal ruling.

If everything gets approved, Peters said the road could be completed by the end of 2014.