By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This started, as many WSB stories do, with an e-mailed question:
Why is the new sidewalk along Fauntleroy Way SW, by Fairmount Playfield, half concrete and half asphalt?
The sidewalk was installed this summer, two years after the removal of trees that left the old one cracked and bumpy. This is an especially bad place for that since this is a school-bus pickup/dropoff zone for nearby Fairmount Park Elementary, in addition to its frontage along a popular park in a densifying area.
There’s no obvious explanation for the mid-sidewalk material switch. But we went over for a firsthand look and noticed that where the concrete ends, it has a stamp: MOVE SEATTLE.
That, you’ll recall, is the $930 million levy passed by voters last year.
When we asked SDOT about the two-tone sidewalk, we learned that it’s related to a much smaller number: $90,000 – less than one-hundredth of one percent of the levy amount.
SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah first answered our question “why is half the sidewalk concrete and half asphalt?” with this information: “SDOT was able to replace a portion of the sidewalk with concrete and use asphalt temporarily for the remaining section to keep within budget. SDOT is planning to replace the asphalt section with concrete next year.”
So – we asked in a followup – there wasn’t enough money to use concrete for the entire project?
That’s not exactly what “keep(ing) within budget” means in this case, Mah replied: “With the budgetary constraints facing projects, our goal is to minimize project costs as much as possible. This sometimes requires doing small projects in phases. The statewide bid limit law restricts SDOT crews to projects that cost approximately $90,000 or less per year. Otherwise the project has to be sent out to bid, which can raise the cost and extend the timeline to deliver the project. To stay within the bid limit, we split the project in two phases – one in 2016, the rest of it next year in 2017. The city is aware that there would be some cost savings and efficiencies if we could mobilize the crew and finish it all at the same time. However, we are bound by the state’s law concerning limits on crew-completed work.”
And now you know.