Construction on Pasco's Road 68 corridor is being pushed back to next year after bids came in more than $400,000 higher than expected.
The Pasco City Council voted to reject the bids on the project, which had an engineer's estimate of $1.09 million, at its Monday meeting. Aztech Electric Inc. of Spokane Valley bid $1.5 million while Colvico Inc. of Spokane bid $1.58 million.
Bids likely came in high because the city was required to bid the project by Oct. 1 to meet deadlines to receive grant money from the Washington State Department of Transportation, city public works director said Ahmad Qayoumi. That meant the city had to bid during the busy summer months for contractors, which may have scared off some companies.
Qayoumi originally had hoped to start construction this fall, but said Monday that starting in the fall likely would have meant having to stop work once it got too cold.
"That would have delayed us until spring," he told the Herald.
The city now hopes to bid the project by the end of the year and start work on putting modern coordinated traffic signals in December, Qayoumi said. Once that is complete the contractor will begin work on putting in new raised medians with left turn lanes along a 3,000-foot-long stretch of Road 68 and a 3,600-foot stretch of Burden Boulevard.
Construction should be completed around April, Qayoumi said.
The city plans to remove a restriction from its request for proposals that required construction to only be done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day from the next round of bidding, Qayoumi said. The restriction would have forced the contractor to set up equipment and take down cones and signs every day, which would have limited them to a few hours of road work.
He hopes the change will get the road work completed for closer to the initial estimate by drawing in more bidders, even if it does lead to more traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours.
"There will be some congestion, but the cost of the project will be lower and we'll get the project done sooner," Qayoumi said.
The city plans an open house meeting to let residents know what traffic delays they could see -- and how to bypass them -- after a contractor is named, Qayoumi said.
Road 68 already is the busiest city street, with traffic approaching 50,000 cars a day. Qayoumi expects that to increase to 65,000 cars per day within five years.
The Road 68 corridor project has a total estimated cost of $1.7 million, which includes design and survey work, Qayoumi said.
The project is being paid for with $1 million in federal gas tax grants, as well as a $500,000 federal safety grant. Qayoumi said the city will have to pay 13.5 percent of its cost. Qayoumi said the state Department of Transportation, which administers the grants, has given the city an extension of its eligibility for the grants.
w The council approved an increase in park impact fees that developers pay on new homes to $1,300. The fee, which had been $709, goes toward construction of neighborhood parks. The vote passed 5-2, with Councilmen Tom Larsen and Al Yenney opposing, citing concerns that builders of large and small homes must pay the same fee. City Manager Gary Crutchfield said the fee is based on averages for the city.
w The council passed an ordinance prohibiting panhandling on city streets. It does allow charities to solicit along the streets, provided actual transactions are done in parking areas.
w The council reappointed Mayor Matt Watkins to the Regional Public Facilities District board.
w The council called for the state to pass a transportation revenue package, if it will bring money for the completion of the planned Lewis Street overpass, which is expected to cost more than $30 million. Several council members said they weren't necessarily asking the state to pass a gasoline tax increase.
"I hope the state figures out a way to do this without a gas tax," Yenney said.
w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;email@example.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom