BELLINGHAM - City leaders have approved a $1.1 million bid for a project to install a roundabout at Northwest Avenue and McLeod Road, just south of the Northwest-Interstate 5 roundabout installed in 2010.
The City Council on Monday, July 23, voted 6-1, with council member Jack Weiss opposed, to approve the bid from Strider Construction. The bid, the lowest of six total, was 28 percent under the engineer's estimate.
The project includes installing a roundabout at the intersection, as well as nearby sidewalks on the north side of McLeod between Northwest and West Rusley Drive, according to Bellingham Public Works. Students headed to Birchwood Elementary School and Shuksan Middle School travel through this area.
The project uses much porous concrete, which lets stormwater seep into the ground. While it costs more than conventional concrete, the porous concrete greatly reduced overall costs by allowing for a smaller stormwater system, city Project Engineer Shane Oden said.
The project was initially planned to begin construction in 2010 but was delayed for various reasons, including acquiring property and requirements tied to the state and federal funding, Oden said. The city acquired rights of way from five properties, and acquisition costs totaled more than $560,000.
There was much negotiating with two churches that own property at the northeast and southwest corners of the intersection over compensation and access, Oden said. Both churches will have driveway access moved farther from the intersections.
The project, estimated to cost more than $2.1 million, includes funding from the state Transportation Improvement Board, federal Safe Routes to School program, federal surface transportation program and city taxes on sales of real estate. The Safe Routes to School money also will pay for pedestrian and bicycling safety education and encouragement programs for students.
Bellingham School District is also pleased because the roundabout will help school buses navigate the intersection.
"It is nearly impossible for them to find a gap to cross Northwest with the current design," Oden said.
Weiss said he voted against the bid award because he feels other alternatives weren't seriously considered for the intersection before making a final decision "and that the amount of money that is being spent on this project could be spent on a number of other road improvements throughout Bellingham."
Crews have already started working moving utilities. Strider Construction crews will begin work in August. They'll get as far along as they can before winter weather sets in, Oden said, but it's very likely they'll have to return to finish the project next spring.