With as much as $127.2 million in road work planned in the greater Spokane area this year, the contractors here that do such work are grinning from ear to ear as the construction season nears.
As an added bonus, contractors say, government agencies are seeking bids for road work earlier in the year than normal, and that could help them avoid having too much work stack up toward the end of the season.
Obviously, because of the $117 million (10-year) city of Spokane bond, there will be a substantial level of road-activity work in 2006, says Steve Robinson, vice president of Spokane Rock Products Inc., of Spokane. Work should be just as busy, if not stronger than last year.
The city of Spokane expects to let bids this year for at least $31.8 million in street and water-main projects, says Staci Lehman, a spokeswoman in its engineering services department. Thats more than double what city expenditures averaged for such projects in 2001 through 2003, before it spent $23.3 million in 2004, then launched its big 10-year road-work effort last year.
Meanwhile, Spokane County has about $12 million in road projects planned in the upcoming construction season, and the Washington state Department of Transportation will spend about $22.5 million this season on its two largest projects here, plus another about $42.5 million to $52.5 million on 21 other projects in the region. Spokane Valley, as well, has about $8.4 million of road work planned this summer.
Among the biggest projects will be one that could cause some major disruptions for Spokane-area drivers. The DOT this summer will rebuild the eastbound lanes of the Interstate 90 viaduct downtown in an about $7.5 million project, says Al Gilson, regional spokesman for the DOT. The agency will rebuild the westbound lanes of that stretch of heavily traveled freeway at about the same cost in 2007.
The other big DOT project slated here this year is the construction of six overpasses for the big North Spokane Corridor project; all will be located along the planned north-south freeways route between Francis Avenue and U.S. 395.
The city of Spokane plans to spend about $4 million on a three-mile water-main project from the intersection of Division Street and Wellesley Avenue along a jagged route to the intersection of Freya Street and Frederick Avenue. Although $9.5 million worth of bids will be let late this year for the first phases of the countys Bigelow Gulch expansion project, the county also will award the $3.3 million reconstruction of Dennison-Chattaroy Road, which connects U.S. 2 and U.S. 395, this year.
There are several components to Spokane Valleys biggest project, which is scheduled to begin this year and is estimated to cost $4.5 million. It will include the reconfiguration of the on and off ramps on the westbound leg of Interstate 90 at Pines Road, the reconfiguration of the Pines-Indiana Avenue intersection, and other improvements.
Bids out earlier
Contractors here agree that several bids have been advertised earlier than in previous years.
Chad Coles, an engineer for Spokane County, says, We always try to get the bids out early, but this year weve been more successful than most years.
Already this year, Red Diamond Construction Inc., of Spokane Valley, has landed a $1.6 million contract to do an about 10-block water-main replacement project west of downtown Spokane. Other projects currently being advertised include the $12 million to $15 million North Spokane Corridor bridge project and an about $4 million project to realign Rutter Parkway at its intersection with state Route 291 northwest of Spokane, says Gilson.
The city of Spokane is seeking bids currently for two paving projects, including one on Rebecca Street from 24th to 28th avenues. In Spokane Valley, Cameron Construction Inc., of Spokane, already has been awarded a contract to rebuild one heavily traveled block of Dishman-Mica Road between Appleway Boulevard and Sprague Avenue as a concrete roadway, and the city of Spokane Valley has advertised for bids to reconstruct Barker Road from I-90 to the Spokane River bridge.
Bryan Kalbfleisch, general manager of Inland Asphalt Co., of Spokane, says, Theres a lot more work out early this year than theres been for the last several years.
Coles says there are several reasons for that. Everything is well along in the design process, and the bids are definitely hitting the streets earlier than usual, he says. The timing of some of the federal-aid money is coming through earlier on some projects, some planned rehabilitation projects require less time on environmental-impact studies, and we are funding a couple projects ourselves, meaning we dont have to go through as many approval hoops.
The city of Spokanes Lehman and the DOTs Gilson say their respective departments are trying to get initial bids out earlier than usual to prevent construction companies from facing backlogs of work at the end of what is expected to be such a busy construction season.
Mark Johnson, general manager of Westway Construction Inc., says that Airway Heights contractor, which usually has annual revenues of about $10 million, already has contracted to do about $8 million in work on three projects in Idaho, and wont bid much more (this year) because were already pretty full up.
Westways Idaho jobs include work on the Seltice Way Bridge, in Coeur dAlene; on state Route 200, near Clark Fork; and on a bridge-widening project near Harrison.
Inland Asphalt will begin in April doing paving work on Red Diamonds water-main project west of downtown Spokane, says Kalbfleisch. Inland expects to begin paving work on U.S. 95 in Idaho, between Coeur dAlene and Worley, at about the same time, he says.
We have a positive outlook, and are pretty optimistic about 2006, Kalbfleisch says. The city, county, and state have a good deal of work coming up. Theres a lot of competition, but we hope to land our share.
Though theres a lot of road work scheduled in the region this year, it isnt the type that Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, does, says Robert Seghetti, its vice president.
Acme doesnt work on structures, such as the I-90 viaduct, and normally lays concrete nine inches to 18 inches thick, much thicker than the two inches of concrete to be removed and replaced on that big downtown project, he says.
Acme has a project of less than $1 million in value in Moab, Utah, under way, and will start in May on a $3.7 million project on state Route 240 near the Tri Cities, but is looking for additional jobs to keep busy this summer, Seghetti says.
Gilson says that work this summer on the North Spokane Corridor project will be concentrated largely on the six overpasses to be built along its path. The long-planned North Spokane Corridor, also known as the north-south freeway, eventually will connect U.S. 395 north of Spokane to I-90 near the Thor-Freya exit. The 10.5-mile new freeway is expected to cost more than $2 billion.
Three of the six overpasses to be built this year will be at Fairview Road, Market Street, and over both the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad line and Parksmith Drive, all south of U.S. 2. Two more will be built where Shady Slope Road intersects with U.S. 2, and the sixth will be built farther north where Perry Street intersects the route, Gilson says. That work is expected to begin soon and be completed by late fall, he says.
The 2006 phase of the I-90 viaduct project from Division to Maple streets downtown is scheduled to begin in May and be completed in September. It will include reducing and narrowing lanes along that section of the freeway, Gilson says. Traffic will be slowed to 45 miles per hour through the 1.2-mile project, but two lanes of traffic will be kept open at all times in each direction, he says.
The three-mile Division-Wellesley to Freya-Frederick city of Spokane water-main project is scheduled to begin in June and to last three months, Lehman says.
The second largest city bid to be awarded this summer will be a roughly $3.4 million project to reconstruct about 1.5 miles of Crestline Street from Decatur Avenue to just north of Lincoln Road. Some sewer upgrades will be included in that project, which is slated to begin in May and last into September, Lehman says. A roundabout will be built later at the north end of the project, she says.
The county is scheduled to seek bids for about $21.5 million worth of work this year, but will only see about $12 million in construction work done during the year, Coles says. Although the first three phases of the Bigelow Gulch realignment project, at an estimated $9.5 million, are slated to be bid in October, most of the work on the western end of the project from Havana Street to Argonne Road will likely take place in 2007, he says. The entire 8.2 mile project could end up costing much more than the original $34 million estimate.
Other big projects on the countys construction schedule this year include the reconstruction of the four-plus miles of Dennison-Chattaroy Road that connect U.S. 2 and U.S. 395 north of Spokane, and the widening of Hayford Road from U.S. 2 north for about 1.5 miles to Spokane Raceway Park. The project is estimated to cost of about $2.5 million, Coles says.
A second Spokane Valley project, estimated to cost $3.2 million, would widen Appleway Road from Tschirley Road to Hodges Road.
Contact Rocky Wilson at (509) 344-1264 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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