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Planned rock blast clears way for road

Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on September 15, 2017 7:52PM

Last changed on September 15, 2017 10:15PM


An explosion at the Port of Umatilla on Thursday night is helping pave the way for a new $3.5 million road connecting the port with industrial land owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Apollo Inc., a general contractor based in Kennewick, planted charges deep inside a basalt cliff face near Launch Lane Thursday for a carefully controlled blast that created a mountain of new gravel to be used during construction of the paved road this fall. The port is also donating sand to the project.

In 2013 the legislature appropriated $3.5 million to the CTUIR “for the purpose of acquiring, developing and constructing a 1.5 mile road extension connecting the Port of Umatilla to certain industrial lands.”

Those lands are 195 acres, located about a mile east of Two Rivers Correctional Institution. The road will extend from Beach Access Road past the Department of Corrections property to the edge of the CTUIR’s acreage.

The tribes are also partnering with the city of Umatilla on a project to extend city water and sewer services to the site. The city will take ownership of the road and other infrastructure once construction is complete. The upgrades will make the property more marketable for economic development.

On Thursday water trucks from Apollo Inc. wet the cliff face and surrounding gravel to help reduce the amount of billowing dust after the explosion. The spectacle drew a few onlookers, including port manager Kim Puzey, a truck from Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District, Jason Middleton of United Grain Corporation and a herd of about 10 deer. Middleton’s son Rian got the honor of pressing the button to set off the charges.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.



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