Spokane Journal of Business

Max J. Kuney submits $13.3 million low bid for Francis Avenue overpass

Contract award for phase of north-south freeway delayed due to bid issues

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Spokane-based Max J. Kuney Co. is the apparent low bidder, at $13.3 million, for the next phase of work on the big North Spokane Corridor freeway project. A contract award has been delayed, though, due to irregularities in the bid results relating to the government-mandated use by general contractors of disadvantaged business enterprises.

The upcoming project phase will consist of constructing a new and wider overpass that will carry East Francis Avenue over the yet-to-be constructed freeway lanes and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks there.

Al Gilson, a Spokane-based Washington state Department of Transportation spokesman, says the irregularities that have delayed the awarding of a contract for the project ultimately could affect which firm gets the contract. He says the state DOT, the Washington state Attorney General's Office, and the contractors that submitted bids currently are working to resolve the issue, but it's unclear when a resolution will be reached.

The disadvantaged business enterprises, or DBE, program seeks to ensure that firms owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals have an equal opportunity to procure U.S. Department of Transportation-assisted contracts.

Work on the new overpass had been expected to start later this year, and construction is anticipated to take more than a year to complete.

Max J. Kuney Co.'s bid of around $13.3 million came in almost 17 percent below the project engineer's construction estimate of $15.9 million. The apparent second lowest bidder, at $14 million, is Spokane-based Graham Construction & Management Inc.

Gilson says other ongoing phases of work on the north-south freeway are progressing on schedule.

A new interchange at Parksmith Road, which is being constructed by Max J. Kuney under a $6.9 million contract, should be completed before the end of this year, he says.

Work also is continuing on a project to construct 3.7 miles of three southbound lanes between Francis and Farwell Road, Gilson says. That $21.5 million phase of work is being handled by Graham Construction and also should be finished within the year, he says.

When both of those phases are finished, the North Spokane Corridor north of Francis will be complete, making up about half of the envisioned 10.5-mile freeway between Interstate 90 and Wandermere.

Last month, the state DOT received a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to be used to relocate 7.5 miles of BNSF mainline tracks and switch spur tracks near the Freya Street interchange.

The tracks will be relocated to the west side of the future freeway to allow for reduced construction costs. Original plans had called for building the freeway at a grade that was aligned lower than the railroad tracks, but those plans would have required an extensive retaining wall to be built along the freeway, as well as several railroad bridges.

The recently awarded grant also will pay for a roughly mile-long extension through the Hillyard area of the current 5.5-mile Children of the Sun bike and pedestrian trail. The trail currently parallels already completed portions of the freeway.

Gilson says the DOT won't seek competitive bids for a contract to complete that work for some time because it still needs to secure the remaining funding for that estimated $31.5 million phase.

  • Chey Scott

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