1st Avenue South ramp followup: 3 questions, answered

On Tuesday, after we reported SDOT‘s long-awaited answer to the question “when will the new 1st Avenue South ramp from the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct open?” (see the story here), three questions emerged in the comment section. Below, the answers, via SDOT’s Rick Sheridan:

Q: When SDOT shifts traffic to the new structure to repave the existing one, will we lose the eastbound 4th ave on-ramp?

A: When we repair and then resurface the deck of the old structure, closures of the eastbound off-ramps will be required to safely facilitate the work. This will impact the eastbound First Avenue S off-ramp and the new Fourth Avenue S off-ramp, though we will not close both at the same time. One of the two eastbound off-ramps will be available for use during that work.

Q: Is the much-later ramp completion going to result in any kind of penalty for the contractor, or was that not a component of the contract?

A: No. This is because major utility relocation work necessary for the ramp’s construction was outside of our control. The delay, however, does have financial implications for the contractor as a longer project phase incurs more costs.

Q: Who’s the “steel subcontractor”?

A: The subcontractor is Stinger Steel from Montana.

The original report is here. As noted, SDOT originally had said the ramp would take at least 16 months to build, but if the “not fully open until July” holds true, that will be 26 months. Last February, concrete work on the ramp had to be torn out and redone because of an alignment error, but at the time, SDOT said that wouldn’t affect the project schedule.

11 Replies to "1st Avenue South ramp followup: 3 questions, answered"

  • dsa November 23, 2011 (10:24 pm)

    …The delay, however, does have financial implications for the contractor as a longer project phase incurs more costs. …
    With that SDOT set themselves up for a late finish payment to the contractor.

  • Nadoka November 24, 2011 (2:11 am)

    Check this link about the time line for Stringer Steel new fabrication plant in Montana and you might get an idea why the steel work isn’t going to be ready until Spring 2012…. something very fishy here.

  • metrognome November 24, 2011 (2:48 am)

    and why is that ‘very fishy’? There are better articles that explain the financing, if that’s what concerns you. It’s not that different than what WA did for Microsoft’s project in central WA as a way of reducing chronic unemployment (see Danny Westneat’s column in the Seattle Times) or what WA is doing to keep Boeing here. The feds have a Buy America requirement if there is federal money involved in a project; that’s probably the reason for chosing this company.
    this article explains some of the complexities of the steel industry; while it deals with military needs, specialty steel fabrication in general experiences the same type of problem:

  • metrognome November 24, 2011 (3:03 am)

    here’s a link to the Federal Hiway Administration’s Buy America rules:
    Pretty any road construction project has federal money in the pot; in this case, WSDOT contributed $25mil toward this project, so Buy America applies.

  • Nadoka November 24, 2011 (3:55 am)

    The “fishy” is not in the financing. It is in the timing on when the Montana plant came on line – look at the dates and ask how the fabrication schedule for this project could have been met.

    The infusion of financing into building our infrastructure is critical if we are to keep the place from falling apart.

    It would be refreshing and a more useful effort if the comments about money going to China, money being wasted in all types of ways, etc. would stop. We are all frustrated by how the economic bust has effected the plans of our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. We need to find ways of inspiring ourselves to come up with solutions, and not keep blaming “the others”.

    The Spokane Viaduct rebuild was needed, and generally well thought out – the devil is in the details and how these details were so poorly planned, connected, managed and communicated,

    The folks at SDOT are well meaning, are operating under barebones staffing and funding, but they are being poorly led and supported, and quality does not yet to seem to be part of their culture.

  • let them swim November 24, 2011 (8:41 am)

    built in america by americans o.k. with me. that’s great.
    i can wait and be inconvenienced if need be.
    but accountability should still exist.
    the excuse of utilities and such is not valid.
    they knew those projects were in the overall picture to begin with. someone is whitewashing this project.
    have a happy thanksgiving.

  • Question November 24, 2011 (8:42 am)

    SDOT is incompetent.

  • raincity November 24, 2011 (9:59 am)

    WSDOT funds are state money, not federal.

    • WSB November 24, 2011 (10:21 am)

      There are state-contributed funds as part of Alaskan Way Viaduct mitigation, and researching the funding issue a bit, I came up with some coverage of ours from almost 3 years ago, in which the state promised to send some federal money this way for the project … TR

  • metrognome November 25, 2011 (5:04 am)

    raincity — State DOTs are condsidered ‘pass through’ agencies for federal grants in that most federal hiway $$ intended for local jurisdictions go to the state DOT for distribution. Any money WSDOT gives to local jurisdictions is considered ‘tainted’ by the federal money WSDOT has received and therefore that project has to follow federal rules, even if there is no direct federal financing.

  • redblack November 26, 2011 (6:15 am)

    thanks for doing the leg work, TR. i was too quick to blame the bridge-building contractor for something that’s largely out of their control. we’re all pretty frustrated with the delay, though, and i think people want a scapegoat.
    “It would be refreshing and a more useful effort if the comments about money going to China, money being wasted in all types of ways, etc. would stop.”
    why? do those questions about cost and waste make you uncomfortable? shouldn’t we have openness and accountability?
    i know a lot of people think union labor is lazy and we just vote to pad our jobs so that we don’t have to work, or that we get paid not to work, or some other nonsense. but union labor is the most efficient way to do more with fewer people and reduce cost and inefficiency. union contractors are typically bigger, have more and bigger equipment, and they typically have better ability to bond state and municipal contracts.
    i don’t know if PCL is a union shop.
    and if we’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, buying cheap foreign materials isn’t the best way to do it. in fact, it’s probably the worst way to do it. american steel cost more, but using it puts more american people to work.

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