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Friday, May 06, 2011
Jeff Switzer, WSDOT SR 520 Communications, 206-770-3547, (cell) 206-819-7230 (Seattle)
Lower bids likely; goal for opening bridge to traffic remains December 2014
SEATTLE – While the goal for replacing the aging State Route 520 floating bridge remains December 2014, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is providing more flexibility to open the new bridge to traffic by July 2015 – a move that could reduce risk and make for better bids on the project.
In meetings with the three design-build contractor teams competing for the project, WSDOT heard that the level of risk associated with the contract schedule could result in higher bids for building the project. After thorough discussion, WSDOT is extending the date for opening the bridge to traffic to July 31, 2015, as well as providing financial incentives of up to $2.5 million for completing bridge work as early as Dec. 1, 2014. All remaining work on the project still must be completed in 2016.
The cost savings for the state from lower bids are expected to outweigh the incentives offered, said WSDOT Deputy Transportation Secretary Dave Dye.
“We still have a very aggressive schedule and are committed to open in December 2014, but decided that the contractors should have an option. Providing schedule flexibility and financial incentives will reduce the risk for contractors and the state and result in lower bids,” Dye said. Bids and technical proposals are due to WSDOT June 8. Results will be tallied and a winning proposal identified July 13. “We’re eager to see the innovations the contractor teams propose next month,” Dye said.
The $600 million to $750 million construction contract includes assembling a new six-lane floating bridge with transit/HOV lanes and a bicycle-pedestrian path, building 44 concrete pontoons and connecting them to 33 pontoons under construction in Aberdeen. The three prequalified design-build teams are Flatiron-Skanska-Traylor, Kiewit-General-Manson and 520 Corridor Constructors (Walsh Construction Company and Weeks Marine).
Building a new floating bridge on Lake Washington requires the winning contractor to navigate a complicated gauntlet of narrow construction work windows that help protect the environment. “The contractor will be working quickly and carefully to use each of the allowed work windows on Lake Washington, while also respecting the environment we build in,” said SR 520 Program Director Julie Meredith. In addition to environmental constraints, bidding teams identified other risks such as timely permit approvals and potential weather hurdles.
Design-build combines design and construction in a single contract, allowing greater innovation and price certainty for WSDOT. Two other design-build contracts are under construction for SR 520: the $306 million Eastside Transit and HOV Project was awarded to Eastside Corridor Constructors, and the $367 million Pontoon Construction Project in Aberdeen was awarded to Kiewit-General. Both bids were below the state’s estimates.
WSDOT has key milestones on the horizon and is working to finalize environmental review and receive permits for construction. A final environmental impact statement for the I-5 to Medina project is scheduled for publication in June, capping off more than 14 years of environmental analysis and community outreach. WSDOT is scheduled to receive federal approval this summer and begin construction on the lake in early 2012.
The state Legislature capped the SR 520 program at $4.65 billion for improvements from Interstate 5 in Seattle to SR 202 in Redmond. Future toll revenue along with state and federal funds provide about $2.62 billion for the SR 520 improvements. WSDOT will continue working with lawmakers to identify additional funding to complete planned improvements in the corridor.
More information about the SR 520 program is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr520bridge.
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