After long delay, Stadium Way Street Improvement project could begin this summer

The City of Tacoma will resume work on the much-delayed Stadium Way Street Improvement project by re-opening the bid process later this month, according to City staff.

In a March 16 memo to Tacoma City Manager T. C. Broadnax, Public Works Director Richard E. McKinley reported the project — which involves geotechnical stabilization of the roadway; updated water, sewer and storm utilities; Schuster Parkway retaining wall upgrades; paving; lighting; and other urban improvements — 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 is planned to re-advertise at the end of this month, and will emphasize a construction phasing plan that will provide 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.

Pending contract or bid-related delays, it is anticipated construction will start in late June and end during summer 2013.

So far, 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 will be divided into two phases.

The first phase (June 2012 to September 2012) involves the reconstruction of the road, sidewalk and utilities at both the northern and southern ends of the project. Work at the north end of the project will occur along North ‘E’ and North 1st Streets, focusing on the area immediately adjacent to Stadium High School. The goal of this phase is to reach substantial completion and open the roadway and sidewalks by start of the 2012 school year. Due to this deadline, the contractor may be required to work weekends, with the possibility of minor improvements (landscaping, striping, etc.) occurring after the start of the school year. With the exception of local traffic, North ‘E’ and North 1st Streets will be completely closed during construction, with a detour provided to the Stadium Business District using Division Street. Work at the southern end of the project will occur along Commerce Street from just north of I-705 to South 9th Street. The reconstruction of the roadway and utilities in this area is timed for the opening of McMenamins brewpub. To maintain a connection to the downtown core during construction, Commerce will be reduced to one lane southbound.

The second phase (September 2012 to July 2013) includes subsurface stabilization, retaining wall and roadway construction, and sidewalk and utility improvements along Stadium Way and Division Street. During this period, with the exception of local traffic, Stadium Way will be closed from I-705 to Division Street. Commerce Street (completed during the first phase) will be open for a direct connection to the downtown core. A detour to the Stadium Business District will be provided via Commerce Street to South 9th Street, and then Market Street to St. Helens. Access to both the upper and lower entrances of McMenamins will be maintained during construction. The upper entrance will be served from Broadway and the lower entrance accessed through Commerce Street/I-705.

Structural improvements to the Schuster Parkway wall will take approximately six months to complete and will begin during the first phase and continue into the second phase. During wall construction, all southbound lanes of Schuster Parkway will be closed to traffic from 8:30 a.m. to the end of the working day. Each evening, one southbound lane will be re-opened to traffic. During the closure, a detour will be provided to the downtown core and I-705 through Dock Street.

The project was originally slated to begin in late-summer 2011 and be completed in November of this year.

In addition to 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 Stadium Way Street Improvement 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.

For more information, visit the project’s Web site at .

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Tacoma’s $9.5M Stadium Way improvement project delayed (10/07/11) —

Stadium Way Arterial Project meeting June 22 (06/14/11) —