FOLLOWUP: Seattle City Light’s Brace Point repairs now won’t start before next year. Here’s why

(Sign seen in project zone last July – photo sent by Nathan)

The Brace Point area south of Fauntleroy has underground electricity, and underground problems – with another outage just this past Monday. Finally, a major repair project that had been years in the making was supposed to start last year – Seattle City Light and its contractor even had a public pre-construction meeting in August. But then – major work never started. After questions from frustrated residents, we checked with SCL, repeatedly, and the answer was generally something about permit problems. Today, two residents reported that the contractor, Olson Brothers Excavating, had packed up their remaining equipment, with one worker telling a resident that they were pulling out and the city would have to put the project out to bid again. We asked SCL’s Jenn Strang about it – and she says yes, they’ll be looking for a new contractor, which means the work won’t resume any sooner than next year:

Over the past six months, we have been working through challenges with the Brace Point conduit repair project. In fall 2021, City Light encountered an unforeseen delay in issuing the notice to proceed (NTP) when it took longer to receive a required Department of Ecology permit than anticipated. During this time, a further complication arose with the contractor not being able to meet the Durkan administration’s policy for vaccine attestation for contractors working on City projects. As we negotiated with the contractor to ensure all requirements were met before issuing the NTP, our SDOT Utility Major Permit expired. With work delayed and the contractor’s non-compliance, we recently canceled the original contract.

We have been focused on reacquiring the SDOT permit. This process will likely take several months as we implement required design changes to comply with updated standards and coordinate review processes with relevant City departments. Once we have a permit in hand, City Light will proceed to advertise for bids, review submittals, and issue intent to award to the selected contractor.

City Light is working to expedite these steps to begin work as quickly as possible. The best-case timeline would allow issuance of an NTP as soon as early 2023 to late spring 2023. However, it is important to note that continued issues with supply chain and staffing shortages could create uncertainty with this timeline.

Even before all this, the Brace Point project was originally expected to start in 2020. At last year’s meeting with the now-former contractor, it was estimated that the work will last “two or three years” – once it begins.

16 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Seattle City Light's Brace Point repairs now won't start before next year. Here's why"

  • waikikigirl May 6, 2022 (5:42 pm)

    You ask and you shall receive, thank you Tracy and crew for your quick reply to our question!!!

  • TJ May 6, 2022 (6:05 pm)

    The definition of Seattle dysfunctional beauracracy 

    • 1994 May 6, 2022 (9:57 pm)

      So correct, along with bureaucracy at its finest.

      • Thomas A Wood May 7, 2022 (4:28 am)

        Another boondoggle and where is are Council Rep? The whole theory behind individual Council districts was to have someone in the community to address the needs of that district. Total failure!Lisa turn the camera off and start doing your job

  • ugh May 6, 2022 (8:06 pm)

    City Light is the absolute worst. Just ridiculous.

  • bill May 6, 2022 (8:56 pm)

    Why can’t city administrators just agree to proceed over brewskis at a “working lunch”.

  • Wseattleite May 6, 2022 (10:13 pm)

    Seattle once again can’t get out of its own way. 

  • John May 6, 2022 (10:20 pm)

    Increased prices for decreased Service as usual with Seattle City light

  • Eddie Westerman May 7, 2022 (12:43 am)

    We have lost power some 8 or 9 times over the last couple of years— once for a couple of days. It begins getting old when we start to lose perishable items from a warm fridge or freezer. The generators that people have are noisy and, while they are taking care of themselves, it’s not a sustainable solution for all of us impacted. We ought to at least pro-rate and not have to pay for days without power…not that that will solve the problem. What took months to stage by zoldon Brothers, is gone in three days. Only the SCL signs and Honeybuckets remain.

    • flimflam May 7, 2022 (6:59 am)

      What took months to stage by zoldon Brothers, is gone in three days.” – interesting how fast they can move when the time clock is off!

    • momosmom May 7, 2022 (7:23 am)

      I don’t understand your question… We ought to at least pro-rate and not have to pay for days without power”     How do you pay or get pro rated for something that’s not even going into your home when the powers out? SCL’s billing department has to still send “bills” out to you for the same billing cycle and I’m sure they’re not adding “pretend” usage of electricity to your bill when the powers out. As for generators, loud yes but people may have reasons for needing that generator besides not having electricity.

  • Canton May 7, 2022 (10:51 am)

    Good on Olson Brothers for packing up and leaving for a outdated vaccine requirement. The city doesn’t care what bridges they burn to get everyone associated to comply.

  • Colonel Mustard's Wrench May 7, 2022 (10:30 pm)

    Lots of moving parts here – and several of them are beyond the control of SCL.
    Did the WA State Dept of Ecology take longer than expected due to pandemic-related staffing issues ?

    Did Olson Brothers Excavating really not have the ability to get their employees vaccinated – and are ending up likely thumbing their noses at future contracts with the city in the process ?

    The expiring of the SDOT Utility Major Permit is a disaster. 
    Whoever the SCL Project Manager is – they are devastated to have so much of their coordination and engineering work undone. 
    Going forward, to now have to comply with updated standards throws the entire project back to square one. 
    It will have to be re-engineered to those updated standards, which will complicate the design. 

    The Utility Major Permit will have to be re-submitted with the more complicated design.

    The labor shortage doesn’t bode well for finding an available excavating contractor.

    And meanwhile, the residents of Brace Point don’t see any hope for a reasonable timeline to begin the replacement of the underground power to the neighborhood.
    It could be 2024 before the work commences. 

    It’s a sad mess.

  • snowskier May 8, 2022 (12:25 pm)

    How much can engineering standards have changed since the prior permit was issued?  Why isn’t there a process for a permit extension when the project was already started?  How hard is it for different public agencies to coordinate with each other?  How much do the leaders of each fiefdom not want to coordinate with each other?  It seems clear that no one has ‘getting the work done and fixing the problem for the neighborhood’ as a primary concern.  Bureaucratic waste at its finest.

    • Colonel Mustard's Wrench May 8, 2022 (5:29 pm)

      Snowskier – these are all excellent questions.
      I like the idea of our West Seattle City Councilmember Herbold informing herself and advocating for the Brace Point Community.
      Let’s throw in the SCL CEO and SCL’s Jenn Strang to address these questions.
      While we’re at it, Mayor Harrell could streamline either the renewal or extension of the Utility Major Permit.
      SCL, the Mayor, and Herbold need to meet with the Brace Point Community and let them know what specifically they are doing to fast-track this project. 
      Many of us in West Seattle have a bad taste in our mouth with the yet-fixed WS Bridge. 
      SDOT (and Heather Marx) showed zero sense of urgency.
      The new administration could rise to this challenge and find faster solutions than what Jenn Strang outlined.

      Brace Point Community:  Demand that these officials meet with you and demand that they move forward quickly, or threaten them with a class action lawsuit for unreliable power.

      • snowskier May 9, 2022 (3:14 pm)

        Totally agree.  We live in Arbor Heights are still waiting the final completion of our redo of rotten wires that were laid in the 50s.  The original project was supposed to wrap in fall 2019 but since then we’ve seen multiple delays blamed on COVID…..which arrived in early 2020.  Apparently the original delay was because the city had troubles getting permits from the city!! 

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