High bid hangs up road work

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The South Prairie Road expansion has run into a little traffic jam - also known as money.

The city and Pierce County, the lead agency on the project, appeared to be over the most difficult hurdle when use and possession of all the necessary private properties was acquired. The cost of the acquisitions is not completely settled, but use and possession allows the project to move forward.

The next problem arose when the low bid on the construction of the expansion came in about $500,000 higher than Pierce County's engineers estimate.

Woodworth and Company, in Tacoma, put in a bid for about $2.3 million for the work. The Pierce County engineer came in at $1.8 million.

The plan is to expand the road to five lanes with a right turn off state Route 410 and another off South Prairie road onto 200th Court East.

Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said the county will do an analysis to figure out why the bid came in high.

“Construction cost have been going up 7 to 8 percent each year,” Grigsby said. “That may be the problem.”

The Pierce County estimate was completed two years ago.

The City Council must decide whether to pay the $500,000 out of city funds or go back to the drawing board and try to figure a way to lop off the extra costs.

Changing the project means a delay of at least a year before construction can begin.

The expansion is intended to help bring relief to the growing traffic problems on the road. Housing developments south of the city, including Falling Water, which is under construction, and Cascadia, which is beginning phase one, will cause more traffic headaches in the near future.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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