WAITSBURG – The City of Waitsburg received an unpleasant surprise when bids for the Main Street Bridge project were opened on Feb. 23. The lowest bid came in nearly $100,000 over the engineer’s estimate, leaving the city to re-evaluate their options.
The cost discrepancy wasn’t due to a shortage of bidders. Twelve companies submitted bids for the job, with totals ranging from a low of $1,379,825 from Harry Johnson Plumbing and Excavation, Inc., to a high of $2,591,216 from Wesslen Construction, Inc. Anderson Perry and Associates Engineer, Eric Zitterkopf, had estimated the job at $1,284,007.
City Manager Randy Hinchliffe said he will be looking for funds until April, when the council will be faced with a decision on what to do.
“If we can’t find any money, we might miss the window this year. There was a small contingency built into the budget, but not anywhere close to covering the overage,” Hinchliffe said.
In June 2015, the Washington State Legislature appropriated $1.7 million to replace the 90-year-old bridge that creates a flood hazard. Hinchliffe had worked to procure funding to replace the bridge for several years and said the city had been working on it off and on for the better part of a decade.
It was anticipated that the $1.7 million appropriation would be enough to fully fund the bridge replacement, with a small amount left for contingencies. However, the high construction bids will not leave enough funds to cover additional costs such as engineering and design fees, permits, etc. The city has spent the last year and a half finalizing a design and jumping through the many legal requirements involved in replacing a historic property. Replacement was slated for this summer.