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Monte city officials still working on Main Street issues

With construction season coming back on the horizon, negotiations between the city of Montesano and Main Street contractor South Bay Excavating remain at a standstill to fix an assortment of issues ranging from a noticeable dip in the road to poorly crafted “bulb outs.”

The contractor wants more money to fix the problems. The city is willing to provide a little bit more money, but not before an assurance from the Olympia-based construction firm to fix the fundamental problems with the street project.

There may not be much visible movement in the street, but that’s because there’s been a lot of movement behind the scenes. City Administrator Kristy Powell says council members have been briefed on the particulars.

“I know people may be wondering what’s going on, but we’re fighting to protect the city and the taxpayers’ investment,” Powell said.

“When I give you a set of plans, you’re required to build it as planned,” Montesano Public Works Director Rocky Howard said. “Their job, their responsibility is to build it correctly. … We’re way past 130 days past the day we gave our punch list for the items to be fixed and they’re still not done.”

Howard says his big concern is that the weather is going to start being perfect to do construction projects again and yet nothing will be done.

“I don’t want it to be summer again to have us start to rip things out and impact our businesses again,” Howard said.

The two biggest issues remain a nearly 1-inch dip in Main Street from the area the construction project started in front of the Shell Station as well as seven of the “bulb outs,” which were supposed to have a design of a 15-foot radius so that a street sweeper could get inside of it, but the contractor built it too small.

Howard says that he thinks the contractor dug the street out too far and placed the rock and asphalt down, resulting in the dip. It would take a core drilling sample in the brand new road to know for sure. Recent rain spells have proven that a significant amount of pooling of water could be seen at the area where the dip in the road can be found. To make sure the city wasn’t being unreasonable with its request to rip out parts of the bulb outs and re-do the job, Howard had the city’s street sweeper make an attempt to clean out the questionable areas. The sweeper was able to get into two of the seven questionable bulb outs, even with the design flaw, but couldn’t get into the other areas. The result was uncollectible dirt and grime that will end up building up over the years and the potential to actually damage the city’s street sweeper and its broom because the access points are too tight for the hulking equipment.

Just to get the project done sooner rather than later, the city offered to just have the contractor replace five out of the seven questionable bulb outs, but Howard says South Bay refused to budge. The contractor doesn’t believe anything is wrong, according to documents turned over by the city of Montesano in a public records request.

Both sides also remain in negotiation over several thousand dollars in costs related to the rock placed underneath Main Street before the paving project began.

“We could have settled this if we wanted to stick it to the citizens,” Howard said. “That’s not how I roll. We will not accept poor quality or poor craftsmanship.”

The city has paid more than $1 million on the project, so far, with the original bid for the project at $958,913.