SR 528 road work put off until fall

MARYSVILLE The city plans to hold off on road expansion work on SR 528 because bids for a $1.9 million project came in about 28 percent higher than anticipated.
The Marysville City Council voted unanimously to reject the two bids from Wilder Construction of Everett and Dennis Craig Construction of Redmond, at $2.35 million and $2.45 million, respectively.
The work would have widened the state highway that is also known as Fourth Street and 64th Street where it runs through the southern part of town. A stretch of the road from 47th Avenue NE to 67th Avenue NE would have benefited from an upgrade to remove a bottleneck in the major east-west arterial running from Interstate 5 to SR 9. Currently the route narrows to two lanes over the Allen Creek Bridge, but the city received a variance from state engineers to allow the bridge to carry four through-lanes.
The work planned for this summer would have widened the road just east of the bridge to five lanes, two in each direction plus a center turn lane from the creek to 53rd Street NE.
But construction cost have risen everywhere with contractors busy on other projects and the Council took staff advice to wait until fall when there should be less business and hence, more bidders on the project. This summer has been very good for road contractors who simply didnt show up to bid on the work, according to Public Works Director Paul Roberts, who said the engineering estimates were correct.
This is an unusual set of circumstances, Roberts said, noting that an overall inflation in construction materials and labor in addition to higher energy cost were boosted by the normal summer increase in work.
I was hoping it was a seasonal thing, said councilman Jon Nehring, who asked why the city got only two bidders.
The plan is to take it back to bid later this year in the early fall when the bid climate is more favorable, Roberts explained, estimating the city could see an eight-percent reduction by then.
We think we can get closer to the engineering estimate at that time, he said, stressing there were no mistakes with the engineers pencil.
Chief administrative officer Mary Swenson recalled a similar event in the early 1980s when Marysville wanted to renovate the city hall, now the senior center at Comeford Park, but received no bids at all. Its also that the city could be the butt of a good newsbad news scenario, as voters approved the five-cent gas tax package to improve state roads, and now contractors working on those projects didnt need to bid on this one.
All the companies are very busy, Swenson said.
Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen made it clear that this was one project that could not be tabled for long, because its a big deal with many residents. Swenson was quick to agree.
This one has to happen, Swenson said, adding that there are other items on the transportation infrastructure to-do list that can wait if need be, or can be built by developers as they build projects.
Roberts said the rejection was simply a business management decision, driven by discussions with contractors who say they will not be so busy later in the year. But that window could be short because a three-county, multi-billion roads package is on the ballot this fall, and that could mean even more business for road builders, with $6.9 billion in projects for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
We want to have a bid on this project before the RTID comes to a vote, Roberts said.
Assistant city engineer Jeff Massie said after the meeting that eight contractors listed themselves for the work, but only two bids came in.

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