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Burke-Gilman Project to Cost $2.2 Million More Than Expected

The trail is not expected to be fully reopened until the end of January; the project originally was expected to cost $2.69 million but problems found during work are causing overruns.

The King County Parks Department will be asking the King County Council for $2.2 million more to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail Development Project as early as Monday.

The project, designed to improve a 30-year-old stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Lake Forest Park and originally expected to cost $2.69 million, has encountered several problems in the work that began last June. If the council approves the new costs, the total price tag of the project will be about $4.89 million.

Contractor crews have worked extended hours since September to address the problems, which are in three areas. Difficulties with working around underground utilities required redesign of the stormwater systems, said project manager Gina Auld of King County Parks. Poor soil conditions required different kinds of retaining walls to be put up. Trees along the footprint of the trail impeded the improvements and about 100 more trees than the 219 originally identified had to be removed.

King County Parks had hoped to finish the project by Dec. 31 and reopen the trail, but only the stretch from Logboom Park in Kenmore to Ballinger Way is expected to be completed by then. The entire Burke-Gilman stretch in Lake Forest Park will be closed until the end of January. The paving of the trail has been completed.

"All of those issues were significant," Auld said. "To the project schedule it added a lot of time."

The 18.8-mile Burke-Gilman Trail is a major link in King County's regional trails network, running just north of Kirkland and connecting to the Samamish River Trail at Bothell.

The three retaining walls that require the additional cost, about $794,000, are "pile-walls," Auld said, instead of "gabion" walls which are wire baskets filled with rocks. The pile-walls consist of wood leggings in between vertical steel H-beams.

The stormwater system improvements, due to problems working around the underground utilities will cost $430,000 more. The additional tree removal and landscaping will cost $400,000 more.

The funding sources for the cost overruns will be about $1.3 million from what's left over from the East Lake Sammamish Trail project. The remaining $900,000 will be from open space bond funds, the parks capital fund, and county general fund, according to the proposal sent to the County Council, said Doug Williams, spokesman for King County Parks. 

Over the next six weeks, construction crews will be working on trail intersections with streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and safety features—such as concrete warning bands, signage and bollards--wood poles that prevent cars from coming onto the trail, Auld said.

More than 300 trees total have been removed, nearly 100 more than originally anticipated, but Auld said the clearing was approved by King County's arborist and Lake Forest Park's arborist. 

The trail detour from Ballinger Way NE to NE 94th St. is in effect until the project is completed. 

For more information, call the project hotline at 206-462-6348 or go to the web site www.kingcounty.gov/burkegilmantrail.

To contact King County Councilman Bob Ferguson, who represents Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Finn Hill and will vote on the approval of additional trail funds, e-mail bob.ferguson@kingcounty.gov

Ralph December 12, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Sadly, this is not unusual. It seems that whenever any branch of government provides an estimated cost of anything to taxpayers, you can almost count on doubling it. Yet we still blindly continue to pick up the tab for "public servant's" mistakes. In the private sector they would be held accountable, and likely fired for incompetence, but in the public sector they probably get promoted since their "little project" is now twice as big.
GMJ December 13, 2011 at 01:34 AM
It's the "Evergreen Factor" in play. The initial announced cost of any public works project in the Evergreen State can be counted on to be 50% to 70% of the actual cost. I cringe at the thought of what Seattle's waterfront tunnel will cost.
bigyaz December 16, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Yes, Ralph. Certainly none of us has ever had a contractor come in with an estimate only to find out it's going to be more expensive once they get into the project and find unexpected problems. Never happens in the private sector, does it? Get serious.

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