Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge is late, over budget
April 19, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Opening is delayed until at least June
The spindly pedestrian crossover bridging the westbound on-ramp at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is at least $200,000 over budget and not expected to open until June, months after the expected completion date.
Blame unstable soil at the site and soggy conditions for delaying the connector from April until early summer. The additional construction could increase the $6 million project budget. City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said planners could ask the City Council to authorize additional dollars for the project, depending on the remaining construction.
“We would like to get it done sooner, but we recognize that this has been a very wet winter, and it just keeps going,” he said.
The long-planned connector at the bustling intersection experienced a construction slowdown last fall after crews needed to dig deeper to find a solid layer to support the piers beneath the bridge. The rain-soaked winter and spring also caused construction to proceed at a slower pace.
Plans call for the completed connector to include a separate 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramps. Crews also modified the existing state Route 900 overpass to install a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing.
The city relied on federal dollars and a $400,000 grant from Sound Transit to offset most of the project cost. The city contributed about $341,000 for the connector and is responsible for cost overruns.
Construction on the project started last July.
The additional construction last fall also prompted a dispute between the city and the subcontractor handling the drilling for the piers, Federal Way-based DBM Contractors.
“They have issues, we have issues,” Brock added. “We feel we’re on solid ground, no pun intended.”
The number of parties involved in the project, including the lead contractor, Issaquah-based C. A. Carey Corp., and the state Department of Transportation, adds to the complexity as city planners formulate a solution.
“It really makes it a challenge when you’ve got a contractor, a subcontractor, the state and us,” Brock said.
Council Transportation Committee members heard about the problems April 7.
Initially, planners estimated some of the Sound Transit grant money could be returned to the agency. However, the more-expensive-than-expected bids for the project, plus the cost overruns, ruled out that possibility.
Councilman Fred Butler, a Transportation Committee member, also serves on the Sound Transit board of directors.
Former Councilman David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a longtime critic of the connector, although Issaquah bikers and pedestrians need additional links across the interstate, said the project price tag is difficult to justify.
Instead, as a councilman, Kappler advocated for a connector near 12th Avenue Northwest and the busy Northwest Gilman Boulevard corridor.
“It just didn’t seem to be worth the investment, and it was in the wrong place,” he said. “The cost overruns, that could have happened even if it had been put somewhere else.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.