$10.2M Stadium Way upgrade project begins next month

Tacoma City Council unanimously approved a purchase resolution Tuesday that awards a $10.2 million contract to Ceccanti, Inc. of Tacoma for the Stadium Way Street Improvement Project.

When the project is completed later next year, it will be long overdue.

According to City staff, the Stadium Way road surface is undergoing substantial settlement due to the historic use of non-engineered fill along its alignment. This project will stabilize the subsurface to prevent future settlement, and will reconstruct the roadway surface and improve the streetscape to accommodate multi-modal uses. The completed project will offer innovative storm water management, dedicated bicycle lanes, improved lighting, traffic control, pedestrian access, landscaping, and other public amenities.

The City has collected approximately $13.3 million for the project: $8.3 million in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grants; a $1.2 million State Transportation Improvement Board grant; and $3.8 million in City funding. The project stretches from South 9th Street and Commerce Street through the intersection of Division Avenue and North E Street, and ends at the intersection of North 1st Street and Tacoma Avenue.

City Council’s action Tuesday will hopefully cap a series of setbacks and delays that have stymied the project.

In a March 16 memo to Tacoma City Manager T. C. Broadnax, Public Works Director Richard E. McKinley reported the project was initially put out for bids on Dec. 13, 2011. Of the nine bids received, however, all were rejected because they exceeded available funds.

According to McKinley, City staff re-grouped by coordinating with contracting community, the Stadium Way Business District, the Downtown Merchants Group, and other key stakeholders to further value-engineer the project to identify cost saving opportunities, improve the balance of risk between the City and the contractor, provide a revised bid structure, and determine how to phase the project to minimize construction impacts. “With these modifications, it is anticipated the bids will come in lower and within the limit of available funds,” wrote McKinley in the March 16 memo.

The project was re-advertised in March and emphasized a construction phasing plan that provided for the April 2013 opening of a McMenamins brewpub in the former Elks Temple on Broadway; the successful detour of traffic to Interstate 705, the downtown core, and the Stadium Business District; and the start of the 2012 school year at Stadium High School. Three bids were submitted by the following companies: Ceccanti, Inc. of Tacoma (approximately $10.2 million); MidMountain Contractors, Inc. of Kirkland (approximately $10.3 million); and Tucci & sons, Inc. of Tacoma ($11.8 million). The contract approved by City Council this week reflects the $10.2 million bid, plus a five percent contingency, for a cumulative amount of approximately $10.7 million, including sales tax.

In addition to the original bids coming in over budget, the project was also delayed when an underground heating oil tank was discovered near the former Elks property and Stadium Way. In an Oct. 5 memo to then-interim City Manager Rey Arellano, McKinley reported that his staff had performed due diligence for environmental issues and was on track to advertise the project for bid in October when the heating tank was discovered on June 17. Staff notified the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), according to McKinley, and the tank was emptied on July 1. The preliminary Environmental Classification Summary (ECS), a requirement that needed to be filed with the FHWA to obtain a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permit, was updated to reflect the discovery and the action taken. As part of the updated ECS, staff submitted a “Low Level Hazardous Material Documentation Report” to WSDOT for approval. Once approved, WSDOT was expected to include it with the ECS and request approval from FHWA. Once approved by the FHWA, Public Works would be allowed to advertise the project.

“Public Works had several conversations with WSDOT about the ECS and the City’s pending approval,” wrote McKinley in the Oct. 5 memo. “On several occasions, City staff expressed its intent to advertise the project in October and asked if this process would prevent the City from meeting this deadline. Although the WSDOT had not given any guarantees, it appeared we would have approval in time to advertise the project. On Fri., Sept. 23, 2011, WSDOT informed the City that the approvals would not be granted in time to advertise the project this month.”

Parametrix, a firm hired by the City to assist with the ECS and NEPA permitting, worked on the revised ECS and anticipated it would be completed and submitted by the end of October, according to McKinley. “In conversations with WSDOT, it will take 6 to 12 weeks to obtain all of the approvals necessary to advertise the project,” McKinley added. “As a result of this delay and because we only allow limited construction activity during the winter months, it is likely construction of the Stadium Way project won’t begin until sometime in late winter or the early spring of 2012.”

The tank’s discovery surprised City staff. “Staff reviewed the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Web site to evaluate if there were any storage tanks in the area,” McKinley explained. “The review indicated the closest tank to be about 400 feet from the project. Parametrix, as part of their process to obtain NEPA, also researched whether or not there were storage tanks and did not identify any in the area. In addition, while coordinating with the Elk’s project, staff requested any information they may have found pertaining to underground storage tanks. The research they conducted for their lender did not identify any tanks in the area.”

The project was originally slated to begin in late-summer 2011 and be completed in November of this year. The new timeline calls for the project to begin next month and be completed by October 2013.

The finished project is expected to offer a variety of sustainable features, including a rain garden to pretreat runoff prior to entering the receiving waters; new intersections constructed of concrete instead of asphalt in order to minimize long-term maintenance and a reliance on crude oil; an emphasis on non-motorized travel through the incorporation of bike lanes and designated pedestrian routes and amenities; pedestrian activated flashing beacons will be solar powered; low-power-consumption LED lights will be used in the new traffic signal at South 4th Street and in the crossing signals; existing ornamental street lights will be re-used; and more trees will be planted than will be removed.

For more information, visit the project’s Web site at http://www.cityoftacoma.org/stadiumway .

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After long delay, Stadium Way Street Improvement project could begin this summer (03/20/12) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=2133989&more=0

Tacoma’s $9.5M Stadium Way improvement project delayed (10/07/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=2049578&more=0

Stadium Way Arterial Project meeting June 22 (06/14/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1991371&more=0