Kenmore bridge project impacted by federal government shutdown

City is working with WSDOT on a construction window for the bridge.

West Sammamish River Bridge. Reporter file photo

West Sammamish River Bridge. Reporter file photo

The federal government shutdown is affecting local communities and could delay a huge project in Kenmore if it continues into next month.

Competing bills aimed at ending the record-breaking government closure both failed in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 24, which was day 34 of the shutdown. On Jan. 25, a deal was reached to temporarily reopen the government for three weeks.

The city sent a press release on Jan. 18 informing the community of potential impacts of the partial shutdown on the West Sammamish River Bridge replacement project.

“This bridge is the largest construction project in Kenmore’s history,” said Rob Karlinsey, city manager. “As we saw a few weeks ago when it was shut down for emergency utility repairs, this bridge has regional significance. There are so many permits, multiple agencies that must weigh in, and when one or two dominoes don’t fall, it holds up so many other processes.”

The city needs approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Park Service (NPS) before it can continue work on the bridge replacement, but both agencies were furloughed.

According to city engineer, John Vicente, the bridge carries nearly 28,000 vehicles per day over the Sammamish River on 68th Avenue Northeast and was constructed in the 1930s. The project will replace the existing west bridge (southbound travel lanes) with a new structure.

The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Bridge Programs for $12 million, Transportation Improvement Board funding for $6.9 million, federal STP funds of $1.6M and the Connecting Washington State fund for $8 million. About $3 million in local Kenmore funds will also be used.

Due to the age of the bridge, weight restrictions went into effect in 2014 and the city began design for a new bridge in 2015. As the project moves from design to construction, the city expected to advertise the project this month and start construction in the spring.

Before Kenmore can advertise the project to select a construction contractor, the city must obtain final Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) approval, based on navigable water coordination with the NOAA.

The construction timeline is dependent on the annual fish window, as the bridge contractor can only do work in the water when salmon are less likely to be around. Because of the fish window, the city estimates that Feb. 11 is the latest date it can advertise for this project, maintain the schedule and start construction this year.

“If WSDOT does not receive final approval from NOAA by Feb. 11, the project will be delayed a year,” according to the city press release.

“I’m not hinging my bets on the shutdown opening,” Vicente said. “So, we’re working with WSDOT to see if there’s more wiggle room for the construction window.”

Another factor affected by the shutdown will be Kenmore’s ability to award the construction bids. Because the wider bridge will be over a small portion of the state’s boat launch property, the NPS needs to give final approval before the city can process the received bids and select the bridge contractor. The NPS will likely have a backlog of work waiting when the shutdown is lifted.

Kenmore must receive NPS approval by March 4, or the project will be delayed a year.

“If the project is delayed a year, higher costs could add millions of dollars to the project,” according to the city. “Mayor David Baker and Rob Karlinsey, city manager, have been in touch with Congresswoman [Suzan] DelBene and advised her of how the project is being impacted.”

To learn more about the project, check www.kenmorewa.gov/westsammamishriverbridge. For questions and more information, contact city engineer John Vicente at jvicente@kenmorewa.gov or 425-398-8900.

“Delaying the project means labor and construction costs will just get higher and we are really trying to avoid that. We are a small city and can’t just absorb costs increases caused by a delay, “ Karlinsey said. “We are working closely with our elected representatives and lobbying multiple agencies so that once the shutdown is lifted, our project will hopefully be given priority.”

More in News

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Blake Peterson/staff photo
                                City manager Jennifer Phillips was one of the speakers at the Jan. 16 information session.
What’s next for the former Wayne Golf Course in Bothell?

The city of Bothell recently acquired the property from its previous owners.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

Photo courtesy city of Kenmore
                                From left to right: Corina Pfeil, Melanie O’Cain, Rod Dembowski, Milton Curtis and David Baker.
Baker, Herbig continue as Kenmore mayor, deputy mayor

They were appointed at the Jan. 13 council meeting, during which councilmembers were also sworn in.

Development has encroached on the East Lake Sammamish Trail (at right). Joe Livarchik/file photo
King County files lawsuit to finish East Lake Sammamish Trail

Homeowners have until September to remove buildings and other property from the right of way.

Most Read