Port Angeles council approves further funds for landfill project consultant

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The city will pay up to $156,731 more to its consultant working on a way to keep a failing bluff from releasing decades of buried garbage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In 6-0 vote Tuesday, with Councilwoman Sissi Bruch absent and excused, council members approved a contract amendment with Seattle-based firm Herrera Environmental Consultants for additional permitting and groundwater investigation for the project at the city's shuttered landfill at the west end of 18th Street.

Resident Darryl Wood told the council he was concerned that Herrera was charging too much for design work on the bluff project.

“It's not unprofessional to ask what these guys charge per hour,” said Wood, a construction contractor.

$2.9 million

The amendment, the sixth to the contract with Herrera, increases the total contract amount to $2.9 million, city Engineering Manager Kathryn Neal said.

Councilman Lee Whetham said he understands that residents are concerned about the cost of design but said that work is so far only about 1 percent of the expected total project amount.

“I really think this is totally within the parameters of design work from an independent contractor,” Whetham said.

The landfill was closed in 2008. The bluff is eroding, and at some points, there is no more than 11 feet of dirt between the edge of the bluff and garbage.

The project would move about 250,000 cubic yards of buried waste from the portion of the landfill closest to the failing bluff and rebury it farther back.

The ends of a seawall built at the base of the bluff would be buttressed to slow erosion, and woody debris would be placed at the mouth of nearby Dry Creek, just west of the landfill bluff, city officials have said.

Construction in May

Neal said Herrera's overall design work on the project is about 90 percent complete and that she hopes construction can begin in May.

The project is expected to total $19.6 million, with about $3.9 million from the state Department of Ecology that will not have to be repaid.

The city plans to pay the remaining $15.7 million through the sale of revenue bonds, which will be repaid to the bond buyers over the next 20 years using revenues from fees charged to drop garbage at the Port Angeles regional transfer station, city Public Works and Utility Director Craig Fulton said.

The transfer station is next to the buried landfill.

The money approved this week will allow Herrera to complete additional permitting so work can be finished along the ends of the seawall and Dry Creek, Neal said.

'After-the-fact' permit

It also will fund work on an “after-the-fact” Army Corps of Engineers permit for the existing seawall, built in 2007.

Before the groundwater investigations work, three monitoring wells will be installed to see whether water has pooled at the bottom of the landfill section set to be emptied, Neal said.

“We're going to be needing to do this work in any case,” he said.

“The benefit is that it reduces risk in the project overall.”

The city could spend more if construction crews discover unexpected ground water during waste relocation, Neal said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 22. 2014 6:51PM
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