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Sunnyside's South First Street upgrade enters 'phase two'

Sunnyside's plans to widen South First Street entered phase two last night when the city council approved a contract with CH2M Hill to provide construction management to oversee the project.

During the Monday night meeting, council agreed to the $467,500 contract with CH2M Hill with only Councilman Jim Restucci casting a no vote.

Restucci explained later that he had a concern with the contract that he wanted to discuss privately with city staff. By voting no, he said it would allow him to raise the issue at a future council meeting. Restucci did not specify what his concern was.

Under terms of the contract, CH2M Hill's work will include coordinating with utility providers to make sure utilities are relocated as necessary to accommodate the road widening, as well as a roundabout planned for the intersection of South Hill and South First roads.

The contract with CH2M Hill is intended to run through the end of 2009, by which time the project is expected to wrap up work.

Public Works Director Jim Bridges said phase one involved pipe construction along the roadway.

In related news last night, council approved an increase in its existing contract with Grey and Osborne for work connected with the South First expansion.

Council moved to increase the contract from $168,400 to $333,400 to pick up the firm's additional workload on the project.

The work will include surveys, right-of-way legal documentation and project design.

As part of the contract, the firm will put together a survey map of the Tom Paul property along South First Street which has been the focus of an ongoing dispute in the city's plan to widen South First Street.

"The map is for negotiation purposes, to settle the quiet title action," Bridges said yesterday.

Bridges said the city is also ironing out details to purchase right-of-way from J.M. Eagle for the street widening. All told, the city through grant financing has purchased right-of-way along South First Street from the freeway interchange to Lincoln Avenue.

Speaking of Lincoln, Grey and Osborne's re-tooled contract will include redesigning a traffic signal at South First Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Bridges said the current loop system in place, in which lights change based on a timing mechanism, is wearing out. Instead the city will use a motion detection system that changes the signal based on traffic at the light.

A similar transformation is planned for traffic lights along Yakima Valley Highway.

Both contracts approved last night are "up to" amounts, meaning the cost could be less than the projected figures. In addition, the cost of the contracts approved last night can be covered through federal funds the city received for the project.

With "99 percent" of right-of-way issues in hand, Bridges said he hopes to see South First Street construction go out to bid by the end of February, in time for a possible spring start-up.

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