PORT ANGELES — The final cost of the new fencing on the Eighth Street bridges was $766,950, nearly $40,000 less than the engineer’s estimate and slightly under the original bid.
The Port Angeles City Council approved this month final acceptance of a contract with Interwest Construction Inc., the Sequim company that raised the protective screenings on the twin spans last summer.
The City Council made the safety fencing a top priority in early 2018 after several people jumped to their deaths from the 100-foot-tall bridges that were previously flanked by 4-foot, 6-inch railings.
The new fencing, which was completed last September, is between 8-feet, 8-inches and 10-feet, 7-inches tall.
Interwest Construction submitted a $770,770 bid to the city in March 2018. It was the lowest of three bids the Public Works Department received.
The engineer’s estimate was $805,320. Previous estimates were significantly higher.
“For 10 years, I have been asking the city to take action on this, and I was always told it was way over $1 million,” Council member Cherie Kidd said at the April 2 council meeting.
“We had a wonderful construction organization from city of Sequim, so kind of local contractors, but Public Works knocked it out of the park.
“Our whole community is grateful for the new fencing,” Kidd added before the unanimous vote to accept the contract and other items on the consent agenda. “It’s just fabulous.”
Kidd lobbied the state Legislature to help pay for the protective screening.
State Reps. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, and state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, secured $350,000 for the Eighth Street bridges in the 2018 state budget.
The city received $124,000 in community donations and identified $292,950 from city sources to cover the remaining cost, Public Works Director James Burke said in a memo to the council.
Eight people jumped to their deaths from the Eighth Street bridges since they reopened with shorter railings in 2009. Four of those deaths occurred between June 2017 and March 2018.
There have been no suicides in the area of the Eighth Street bridges since the new fencing was installed, according to Port Angeles Police Department records.
The chain-link fence is vinyl coated with support bars on the outside of the barrier and metal spikes on top to deter birds.
The fencing has an undulating top to represent the Olympic Mountains.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].