WALLA WALLA -- A $2.8 million grade-lowering project on Myra Road will cost utility customers $300,00 to replace water and sewer lines that currently may not need replacing.
At a special joint council meeting Tuesday, the project was unanimously approved by the College Place City Council.
The Walla Walla City Council, with all members present, had one dissenting vote.
"We are talking about $300,000 that is going to come from utilities ... My own evaluation is that the IRRP projects are of higher priority than this is," Mayor Barbara Clark said, just before voting against the project.
While the majority of the project, which is not part of the ongoing Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Project, will be paid for through federal and regional funds, about 20 percent will be paid by the cities.
College Place and Walla Walla will each pay $300,000. College Place City Manager Pat Reay said his city will use designated general fund reserves.
Principal engineer Neal Chavre said Walla Walla will use reserve utility funds. He also expects the water and sewer lines to be replaced are most likely not failing, though he could not readily confirm their condition.
Clark also questioned if the intersection to be lowered currently poses enough of a safety risk to merit the multimillion dollar project.
Council members Jerry Cummins and Jim Barrow each argued against Clark's stance, noting visibility and safety would be improved.
"If we do this," Clark said, "that $300,000 is going to come out of the pockets of the people that are paying utilities right here in Walla Walla."