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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Argonne Road bids come in lower than expected

Valerie Putnam

The competitive bidding market, brought on by the economic downturn, provided Millwood good news at Monday’s meeting.

Engineering Firm Welch Comer and Associates representatives Jackie Fullerton and project administrator and engineer Charlie Gay presented the council a detailed bid tabulation for the Argonne Road project highlighting eight firms.

“We had a lot of bid openings recently and almost all of them have come in significantly lower,” Fullerton said. “Numbers are coming in anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 difference from the original estimates.”

Following Welch Comer’s recommendation, the council awarded the contract to Red Diamond Construction, the low bidder at $822,664.

Councilman Brian Ellingson, whose employer Inland Asphalt also submitted a bid, abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest.

With the additional funds, the city hopes to increase the scope of work. Last year, Welch Comer recommended the council scale back the project due to rising construction costs. With the lower-than-expected bids, Mayor Dan Mork believes the city may be able to reconstruct Argonne from South River Way to Buckeye, as the original scope work proposed. Currently, the project goes from South River Way to Frederick. Mork anticipates construction beginning at the end of April or early May.

Prior to the council’s vote, Councilman Kevin Freeman questioned the discrepancies between the original engineer’s estimates and the final costs reflected in the individual bids.

“Our estimates are based on past project costs … and what we are seeing across the board are bids coming in very low,” Gay said. “I think the economy has a lot to do with it. People are trying to keep their workers working.”

Funding for the Argonne project comes from a $1.3 million Spokane Regional Transportation Council grant.

In other city news:

•The council unanimously approved Welch Comer to conduct an independent engineering traffic study of Empire, Fowler and Butler roads.

Welch Comer was one of five firms considered.

“They are all qualified firms,” city planner Tom Richardson said about the firm submittals. “The fact they (Welch Comer) have more experience in Millwood puts them on top.”

The scope of work for the study includes measuring and evaluating the volume and speed of traffic, evaluating alternative methods of slowing and reducing traffic, and preparing cost estimates for all alternative methods.

According to Richardson, the council will vote on the contract next month.

Freeman requested the traffic study during last month’s meeting. His request stemmed from traffic concerns raised during a Feb. 18 public meeting.

As an additional step to help with traffic issues, the council approved Mork’s request to pursue a contract with the city of Spokane Valley for a part-time patrol officer to conduct random patrols in the city. The officer would work a minimum of four hours a week at $60 an hour.

“I think it’s a right step the council is taking,” Mork said. “We’ve heard complaints for a long time and you’re doing something about it, which is great.”

•The council unanimously approved adopting a hearing examiner system to ensure proper appeal rights. The examiner will also be available to address land use appeals.

•Richardson announced the resignation of planning commissioner Hal Mola, who vacated his seat last month. Richardson hopes to fill the position before the May meeting. Applications are being accepted. Contact Richardson at (509) 924-0960 for more information.

•A special Arbor Day Celebration will be held in Millwood City Park on April 25 at 9 a.m. Garth Davis from Spokane County Conservation District will be on hand to answer questions. The city’s annual spring cleanup day follows the celebration. For more information on this year’s cleanup day, contact Pastor Craig Goodwin, from Millwood Presbyterian Church, at (509) 924-2350.

Contact correspondent Valerie Putnam by e-mail at vrputnam@yahoo.com.
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