The Spokane Valley City Council had few comments Tuesday evening when it was told the new Sullivan Bridge could cost $424,000 more than planned.
“That’s a worst-case scenario,” said Deputy City Manager John Hohman.
A design error meant the new bridge had less than legal clearance between the surface of the Centennial Trail, which runs along the river below the bridge, and the underside of the bridge deck. The error was not discovered until after the city accepted the bid for the bridge.
Lifting the new bridge deck to create enough clearance wasn’t an option and digging a deeper spot for the Centennial Trail ran into problems because AT&T has a cable buried below the trail.
The alternative was to lower the trail by moving it closer to the river, a maneuver that required the installation of retaining walls, earth work and paving.
Hohman said the City Council was told last year that the city’s share of those changes would be around $65,000 – the rest would be covered by grant monies – and based on that information the city settled with project designer CH2M for $86,197.
But the grants have been spent, Hohman said.
“Knowing this now, I can’t speculate on whether you would have entered into that settlement,” Hohman said. He added that it’s possible more funding will become available as the project is wrapped up in early May.
“We won’t know the final amount yet, until we have gone through the finalized project item by item.”
Some of the main staff on the project, former Public Works Director Eric Guth and former Capital Improvement Program Manager Steve Worley, no longer work for the city, and their separation agreements specify that neither they nor the city can talk about each other.
Gloria Mantz, interim capital improvement program manager for Spokane Valley, then explained there were administrative and clerical errors with the two competing bids from Garco Construction and Apollo Construction.
That’s not unusual, Mantz said, but in this case Apollo complained when it didn’t win the bid and the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration sided with Apollo against the city.
“We declined both bids and re-advertised,” Mantz said. “There were $8 million in grants at stake.”
Max J. Kuney Construction was awarded the contract.
Councilman Ed Pace wanted to know why the city didn’t push back against WSDOT, and city attorney Cary Driskell said that would have “soured” the working relationship with the state agency.
Spokane Valley is actively seeking funding from WSDOT and federal sources to help pay for multimillion dollar railroad crossings in Spokane Valley.
During the construction of the bridge, it was decided to add nearby Sullivan Park to city water to aid fire prevention there.
The park was on a well.
The new water connection was designed to connect to a water main under Indiana Avenue and within Consolidated Irrigation District No. 19.
But it turns out that the park has to be connected to Trentwood Irrigation District No. 3, said Mantz.
“The water main has to come in from north,” Mantz said. That will cost another $152,858 – if a nearby property owner decides to help out which Mantz said is not certain.
Pace asked city manager Mark Calhoun to push WSDOT on why it didn’t support the city’s initial contractor pick.
“And I want to know how a contractor can make the mistake and charge us for it?” Pace said.
Editor’s note: This story was changed April 20, 2017 to correct an error. The original version of this story used the wrong name of the construction company that was awarded the contract to build the Sullivan Road Bridge.