Bids opened for suicide barriers on Port Angeles bridges

Cherie Kidd

Cherie Kidd

PORT ANGELES — Of the three companies that submitted bids to install taller safety barriers on the Eighth Street bridges, a local contractor had the lowest offer.

Interwest Construction Inc., of Carlsborg bid $770,770 to build the 8- to 9-foot-tall fencing on the twin bridges over Tumwater and Valley creeks in Port Angeles to help prevent suicides.

Combined Construction, Inc. of Mukilteo bid $824,561 and A1 American Fence, Inc, of Orange, Texas, offered $1.47 million for the long-awaited city safety project.

The engineer’s estimate was $805,320.

“We did it,” Port Angeles City Councilwoman Cherie Kidd said while exchanging high fives with others at the bid opening Tuesday.

“This is great. This is going to be within budget. This is something we can take to council and be proud of and just get the heck started.”

The City Council will discuss the bids and might consider awarding a contract at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Eight people have jumped to their deaths from the 100-foot-tall spans since they reopened in 2009 with 4-foot, 6-inch railings. Four of those deaths occurred in the past nine months.

The Port Angeles City Council voted in January to install vertical chain link fencing with aluminum posts attached to the outside of the existing 32-inch concrete barriers.

Public Works Director Craig Fulton said he was “extremely happy” with the bids.

“Interwest is the apparent low bid,” Fulton said. “It’s always great to have a local contractor.”

The bids were opened by City Engineer Teresa Reed-Jennings in a conference room at City Hall. The bid opening was witnessed by Kidd and several city staffers and residents.

Reed-Jennings said the two lowest bidders are required under law to submit additional materials to ensure that they meet minimum requirements.

“If everything fell into line [with the bids], we’re going to push it,” Fulton said.

“Yeah, push it, push it, push it,” said Kidd, who worked with state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and others to secure $350,000 in state transportation funding to help the city pay for the safety fencing.

The Eighth Street safety project is eligible for state funds because the western bridge crosses the Tumwater Truck Route, a state highway.

If the City Council awards a bid Tuesday, the barriers could be installed as early as September, Fulton said.

“We need to have a discussion with the contractor to really nail down the manufacturing and delivery time frame of the materials,” Fulton said after the bid opening.

“That will be a key timeline that we still have to nail down.”

The city had identified $1.4 million to pay for the barriers, including the $350,000 from the state.

Other possible funding sources include $442,000 in city real estate excise taxes, $434,000 in general funds and $50,000 in deferred capital projects.

The city also received more than $124,000 in pledges and community gifts, including a $100,000 pledge from an anonymous family and a $10,000 donation from First Federal.

“We’ve worked so hard and the community has pulled together to get it financed,” Kidd said before the bid opening.

“It’s been a labor of love.”

The City Council will discuss with staff how to reallocate any excess funding for the bridge barriers, which might include money for new railings at City Pier, Fulton said.

“They’re becoming a safety hazard,” Fulton said.

“That was one of the projects that we pushed off.”

Any money raised by the community that is not spent on Eighth Street bridge barriers will be used to enhance mental health services, the City Council decided.

Kidd, a former mayor and third-term council member, has been pushing for taller barriers on the Eighth Street bridges for years.

She received a groundswell of local support after 15-year-old Ashley Wishart of Port Angeles jumped to her death from the eastern bridge last November.

Mark A. Pozzie, 68, of Port Angeles, became the eighth person to jump to his death March 12.

The City Council voted in January to design and build a vertical chain link fence with a wavy top for aesthetic value and hired Olympia-based Sargent Engineers, Inc., to design the project.

The council opted for aluminum posts rather than steel posts to reduce the 65-year life cycle cost from $3.8 million to $2.2 million.

Aluminum posts have a higher up-front cost than steel because they will not need to be replaced, according to city staff.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

Reporter Jesse Major contributed to this report.

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