Just when commuters thought Puyallup’s reconstruction of a busy arterial near South Hill Mall was finally nearing completion, the city and its contractor have again restricted traffic on 112th Street East to two lanes.
The restrictions are bottle-necking traffic near one of Puyallup’s busiest retail neighborhoods and slowing commuter traffic, residents have complained.
At the root of the problem is what city engineers say is faulty work performed by the project’s original contractor and a winter work suspension to allow shoppers to get to retailers abutting the road during the holidays. The city also cites this year’s abnormally rainy weather for delaying a restart of work.
The second contractor on the project, Olson Brothers Excavating, is removing and replacing several dozen new pervious concrete road surface panels on the road’s north side that the city claims are defective. The panels were the work of original contractor Conway Construction Co. of Oregon. That work and other items are expected to be complete by early June, said Assistant City Manager Steve Kirkelie.
Meanwhile, Conway and the city are involved in a fight in Pierce County Superior Court about the city’s suspension of Conway’s work in March 2016. A trial in that case is now scheduled for May. Conway had begun the project in November 2015.
The city contends Conway failed to live up to nine provisions in the original contract. Puyallup gave Conway a two-week notice last year to remedy the nine items or face cancellation of their $3.86 million contract.
Conway contends in court documents that it corrected several of the items, such as misplaced traffic control signs, and had made progress toward correcting other issues when the city put the brakes on the project.
Conway’s lawyers contend the city refused to meet with Conway and that fixing the issues the city enumerated, if they were valid, would have required more than two weeks to accomplish. The construction firm wants a judge to declare that the city terminated the contract for its convenience rather than because Conway had defaulted on its contractual obligations.
The judge’s decision will potentially play a large role in who will pay for fixing the problems. The city is withholding more than $1.2 million Conway says it was owed for work performed. Olson bid $2.47 million to finish the work.
The project design calls for widening 112th Street East — it’s also called 39th Avenue SW — to four lanes, installing turn lanes, new traffic signals and sidewalks. The construction project stretches from 11th Street SW to 17th Street SW near Costco and South Hill Mall.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663