Port Angeles approves contract for failing bluff in landfill
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Tom McCabe, superintendent of the city of Port Angeles’ solid waste division, points toward the encapsulated mound of waste at the former landfill from atop a blufftop mound of even older buried garbage Wednesday.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City public works staff hope to see a multimillion-dollar effort begin this month to shift decades of buried garbage back from a failing bluff in west Port Angeles now that council members have approved a construction contract.

During a special meeting and work session Tuesday, City Council members approved 6-1 a $13.09 million contract with Magnus Pacific of Roseville, Calif., with Councilman Brad Collins opposed.

Under the contract, the construction company would dig up and shift about 399,090 cubic yards of waste buried in the city's shuttered landfill upland from the edge of a 135-foot bluff to prevent it from falling into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Augment seawall

It also would augment the ends of the seawall at the base of the bluff to reduce erosion and perform restoration along Dry Creek, which sits just west of the failing bluff.

City engineering manager Kathryn Neal said she expects work to begin by the end of this month.

Collins said during the meeting Tuesday that he felt city residents were being unfairly burdened with the cost of the project, which seeks to shift garbage accumulated from all over Clallam County.

“Until we have a more regional approach, I will not support the motion,” he said.

$19.9 million

The total project is estimated at $19.9 million. In addition to the contractor work, this estimate covers design, construction management and project contingency.

The city has secured $3.9 million in financial assistance from the state Department of Ecology for the project and is planning to fund the remainder through the sale of bonds, which will be repaid in part by Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station tipping fees.

Collins also said he thought certain aspects of the project, such as the creek restoration piece, are not absolutely necessary to fix the failing bluff and are an unneeded cost.

“My concern is that we're overfixing the problem, and it's at a time when the debt on the city is so great to begin with, and it's hard for me to support this,” he said.

The council vote on the contract was shifted from the May 6 meeting to last Tuesday after the second lowest bidder on the project, Bellingham-based Strider Construction Co., protested that Magnus Pacific did not properly submit bid documents.

City public works staff responded to the protest letter and, per state bidding requirements, waited at least two days to put Magnus Pacific's contract forward again for consideration.

Contingency fund

In a separate motion, council members Tuesday unanimously authorized a $1.96 million contingency fund for the project and gave City Manager Dan McKeen authority to approve project change orders of $200,000 or less without a council vote.

This would apply only to the landfill project, city officials explained, and is meant to reduce work delays caused by having to wait for council members to approve change orders.

“If there's a delay for some reason or changing site conditions, we need to act quickly so that we do not delay the contractor,” City Public Works and Utilities Director Craig Fulton said at the meeting.

City staff originally recommended giving McKeen authority to approve change orders himself up to the $1.9 million amount.

Councilman Lee Whetham balked at this idea.

“I can't support this, and I want to be in on decision-making on the $2 million,” he said.

Whetham ultimately proposed the $200,000 amount after discussion with fellow council members.

Neal said buried waste would be moved just to the south to a larger buried section of landfill during the work.

Once moved and re-covered with specialized material, the shifted waste would add about 30 feet more to the grass-covered hill that forms the southernmost portion of the landfill.

By October

The garbage is expected to be moved by October, Neal said, and temporarily covered until winter's rainy season is over.

Early next year, crews will start installing the permanent cover and begin work on the seawall at the toe of the bluff, Neal said.

“I think that [timeline] came as the design evolved and we realized it made more sense to focus on relocation the first year and give more time to placing the final cover instead of trying to work in the rainy season,” Neal said.

The entire project is expected to be done by September next year, Neal said.


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

Last modified: May 15. 2014 5:59PM
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