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Port Orchard firm hired for South First Street upgrade

After years of delays and property disputes, the city of Sunnyside took a big step forward with its South First Street upgrade by approving a contract for phase two of the project.

The action came last night, Monday, during the city council's regular meeting.

Mountain West Construction of Port Orchard was selected from among 15 bidders who sought the contract.

Public Works Director Jim Bridges said Mountain West's bid of $2.7 million came in $1 million less than initial estimates for the project.

"We're excited about the bids, it's a project we've been working on for almost five years now," Bridges said.

City Manager Eric Swansen said the lower than expected bid will enable the city to look at putting in turn lanes, given the heavy freight traffic at the South First Street/South Hill Road intersection.

Swansen said the numerous companies bidding on the project is also an indicator of the recession.

"It's a pretty good sign to folks that the economy has slowed down," he said.

A bid review was conducted by consultant CH2M Hill. Based on that firm's recommendations, Sunnyside opted to go with the low bidder, Mountain West.

The work included in the bid involves completely reconstructing South First Street beginning at the I-82 on/off ramps north to Lincoln Avenue; and Lincoln Avenue beginning at the intersection of South First Street, west to Hawthorne Street.

The improvements also include curb, gutters and sidewalks, as well as water main replacement; new storm drainage systems; street lighting; and two new traffic signal systems at the intersections of South First Street/South Hill Road and South First Street/Lincoln Avenue.

In addition, 500 feet of street reconstruction will be done on South Hill Road from the intersection of South Hill Road and Guernsey Street to the approximate entrance of Bi-Mart on South Hill Road.

Other South Hill Road improvements will include curb, gutters, water main replacement; new storm drainage systems; street lighting; and lowering the "hump" in South Hill Road to improve the stopping sight distance at the intersection of South First Street and South Hill Road.

A roundabout initially proposed at South Hill Road and South First Street has been scrapped.

The money for the street project comes from a $5.5 million grant package the city received back in 2003.

About half of the funds come from a surface transportation program via the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments. The other half comes from a mix of Federal Highway Administration and Washington State Transportation Improvement Board monies.

The city says about $2 million of the money has already been spent on phase one, which included acquiring rights of way, design engineering services, drain ditch improvements and SVID mainline replacement along South First Street.

Bridges told council he'd like to see the city hold an open house at the community center to inform the public about what they can expect while the year-long construction project is underway.

"There's going to be some pain involved, but we're going to be in it together," Bridges said.

The city will also begin a public information blitz, focusing on businesses and residences along South First Street that will be impacted. Sunnyside will post detours and also erect a sign on I-82 alerting motorists to construction delays if they take Exit 67.

Bridges said Mountain West will likely get started with the South First Street and South Hill Road improvements by the end of this month or early March. He said the firm is considering a four-day work week to give residents three days each week without traffic delays.

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