City seeks contractor for long-planned I-90 Undercrossing

January 27, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 27, 2010

Officials seek construction bids for the Interstate 90 Undercrossing, a long-planned connector from Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street.

City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock put the project out to contractors for bid after the City Council cleared a final pre-development hurdle last week.

After the city receives bids, Brock expects staffers will select a finalist within the next few weeks. He hopes for the City Council to award the contract in March. The sluggish economy could make for bids at lower amounts than officials expect.

Officials budgeted about $3 million for undercrossing work in 2010. The overall cost of the endeavor included in the Capital Improvement Plan — a sweeping guide to all types of city projects — is $13 million.

Before Brock could send the request to contractors, however, the City Council had to approve a key agreement critical to construction of the undercrossing.

The council set aside environmental concerns Jan. 19 and amended a development agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to tweak city tree rules on land near the planned roadway. City and postal service officials had negotiated a development agreement to allow the city use of a right of way on the land, and the council approved the pact last August.

If a developer builds on the land, the work would destroy more than the amount of trees allowed for removal under city code. But many questions remained unanswered because officials do not know when — or even if — development will occur on the land. Planners will work with the developer to determine specifics when the developer moves forward with the project.

“There’s a lot of detail that needs to be worked out before we start building whatever’s going to be built on that site,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the unanimous Jan. 19 vote.

The undercrossing will, when completed, link Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 56th Street via a two-lane roadway built from the traffic signal at the post office. Planners hope the north-south connector will cut traffic congestion on Front Street and state Route 900. Officials aim for construction to begin in the next several months.

Crews will build a manmade wetland in Emily Darst Park to replace wetlands destroyed when teams break ground on the undercrossing and a pedestrian overpass on SR 900.

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