520 Pontoons receive more funding

The Washington Department of Transportation added funds to the SR 520 Pontoon Project after costs to repair the pontoons have used up the much of their funds.

Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson and SR 520 Program Director Julie Meredith announced that WSDOT’s pontoon design error is consuming much of the SR 520 program’s $250 million risk reserve.

“The original pontoon design included an unfortunate and costly mistake,” Peterson said. “While the error discovered in 2012 is depleting most of the contingency reserve, we are proactively managing the remaining risks and don’t foresee the need for new funding sources to complete the work at hand and move our region closer to a safer, higher-capacity, multimodal 520 corridor.”

In 2012, WSDOT determined that repairs and modifications were needed on four pontoons from Cycle 1 built in Aberdeen as a result of a design error. In addition, all remaining pontoons required either modifications or construction using an updated design. WSDOT contractors have since completed repairs on two of the four Cycle 1 pontoons, and will complete repairs on the remaining two pontoons this spring.

In December WSDOT implemented five new change orders for the SR 520 Bridge Program with their contractors. These change orders total over $42 million, of which $37 million is with Kiewit-General Joint Venture for the redesigned pontoon work on Cycles 3 through 6.

One additional change order associated with the pontoon design error is expected in the next month and will likely bring the total cost associated with the pontoon design mistake to approximately $200 million.

With the signed and expected change orders, plus WSDOT’s analysis of the potential future risks associated with the remaining $800 million in funded construction, the agency has determined that approximately $170 million in additional funding is required.

The SR 520 program’s budget currently is capped at $2.72 billion. The budget covers three major projects: Eastside improvements to the SR 520 corridor from Medina to Redmond; the new floating bridge and bridge landings; and pontoon construction. The addition of transit/HOV lanes in both directions from Montlake to I-5, along with other corridor enhancements on that stretch of highway, remains unfunded. WSDOT will work with the Legislature to request authority to change the program budget from $2.72 billion to $2.89 billion.

The new floating bridge is expected to open to traffic in late 2015 or early 2016.

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