State looking for more money
Planned improvements to State Highway 543 between I-5
exit 275 and the Canadian border, a section of road known
locally as the truck route, have been put on hold while
the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
looks for more money to pay for it.
“The job came in about 20 percent over our engineering estimate,” said WSDOT’s Todd Carlson, a design engineer, “so now we’ll either need supplemental funding from the state legislature or we’ll have to re-design it and put it back out for further bids.”
Carlson said he was optimistic that the supplemental funding would be provided “but you know how that goes, usually nothing’s for sure until the last day.”
Carlson said that if a re-design becomes necessary it would add “about four or five months” to the project.
The bids were opened on January 19 and compared with the WSDOT engineer’s estimate of $22.3 for the complete three-year project. The low bidder came in at $27.3 million and the second low bidder submitted a figure of $28.2 million.
Blaine’s director of public works Steve Banham said that one factor in this is the rapid rise in the cost of gasoline and related petroleum-based products like asphalt. “With those costs and that of other materials like concrete going up, the contractors are trying to put in a figure that will not end up losing money for them three years from now,” Banham said.
Todd Harrison, the assistant regional director for WSDOT stationed at the Burlington office, will be at the Blaine city council meeting on Monday, February 13, to discuss both I-5 exit 276 and improvements to state highway 543, Banham said.