(Walla Walla, WA) -- The Port of Walla Walla says they are making it a priority. The completion of the widening of US Highway 12 all the way from just outside the Tri-Cities in Burbank, to right near Walla Walla in College Place. Most of that stretch will have been widened to either freeway standard, or at least four lanes in each direction, with the latest phase between Nine Mile Hill and College Place set to open later this year. The final phase, yet to be constructed, is known to the Washington State Department of Transportation as Phase 8. It would connect the new section at Nine Mile Hill, all the way to Burbank, essentially offering a freeway drive between Pasco and Walla Walla.


The project has been considered since 2003 and building Phase 8 had been included in state transportation budgets in previous legislatures. It had been removed however, and now The Port of Walla Walla's Executive Director says they are tasking their lobbyist in Olympia to make getting Phase 8 back in the budget. The director calls it a top priority.

According to WSDOT, Phase 8 would replace 10 miles of undivided, two-lane road between Attalia and Nine Mile Hill. When and if the phase is constructed, most of the work would take place away from the existing highway, minimizing traffic delays.

WSDOT says the benefits of the project are clear. It says once Phase 8 is complete, the new four-lane highway will connect Walla Walla to the western ports and enhance movement within the Mid-Columbia region, along with the state.

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