State awards U.S. 12 widening contract


State awards U.S. 12 widening contract

Earth will start moving in the spring, and the widening of 3.4 miles should be done be late summer 2004.

By Andy Porter of the Union Bulletin

The first signs of progress toward widening U.S. Highway 12 should begin showing up between Burbank and Wallula Junction this spring.

A $6.1 million contract to widen about 3.4 miles of the road between McNary Pool, south of Burbank, to the vicinity of Dodd Road has been awarded, Douglas MacDonald, Washington state Department of Transportation secretary, said Tuesday.

The contract was awarded Friday to Steelman-Duff of Clarkston, MacDonald said during a visit to Walla Walla.

The widening project is the first part of a seven-phase plan to change the highway to four lanes all the way from Burbank to Walla Walla. Spearheaded by the Port of Walla Walla, the project has gained wide-spread governments, businesses and private individuals.

Steelman-Duff’s bid was was well under the engineer’s estimate of $7.9 million, MacDonald said. Overall, interest in the project was high, with 23 contractors expressing interest in the job and seven submitting formal bids, he said.

Don Whitehouse, WSDOT’s south central region administrator, said that construction on the project should begin next spring.

Major earthwork will be done during the summer and fall of 2003 and paving will probably begin in the spring of 2004. Estimated completion date for the new roadway is late summer 2004.

The next three phases of the project would four-lane the highway over the 12-mile section between Burbank and Wallula Junction. When those sections will be funded is unknown now due to the failure of Referendum 51 this year, transportation officials say. Whitehouse said Tuesday that whenever construction of future phases is funded, builders should be able to move quickly because the environmental planning for the entire 12-mile stretch from Burbank to Wallula has been finished.

“We can build the whole darn thing right now,” MacDonald said Tuesday. “It’s ready to go.”