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Bainbridge council approves new contract change for Rockaway Beach project

The Bainbridge Island City Council moved forward Monday with shoring up a perilous cliff on Rockaway Beach that has bedeviled the road above it for almost two decades.

The council voted unanimously to approve an updated contract for the Rockaway Beach Roadway Stabilization project, which will allow planners to redesign a retaining wall to buttress the eroding bluff.

The $65,887 change will increase the consultant contract with Seattle-based engineering firm BergerABAM to $409,362. The council previously approved a $77,915 increase in the consultant contract in March 2012. The consultant costs will come out of funds already granted to the city and will be used for new designs and permits necessary to begin the job.

Originally, engineers sought to build a rock revetment wall, as that option was thought to least likely harm the nearby eelgrass beds and shoreline environment.

But that plan was discarded recently for a different type of seawall.

On May 31, representatives from several government organizations met for six hours at the site with City Manager Doug Schulze. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Suquamish Tribe members in attendance opposed the use of a rock revetment wall, which they said would harm nearby habitat for surf smelt.

Instead, federal officials and the city agreed to redesign the project with either a sheet pile or soldier pile wall, which is expected to be cheaper than the rock revetment wall anyway.

“As I’m sure the council knows, the city had proposed what is called a revetment wall,” Interim Public Works Director John Cunningham told the council Monday.

Cunningham said that particular design was not acceptable to the state and the tribe, however.

"We had to go back to the drawing board and redesign the project,” he said.

Contractors are in the process of taking soil borings to determine whether a sheet pile wall is feasible, or if a soldier pile wall would be a better option. Cunningham expects a bid to go out to contractors this Friday to see which option would be cheaper and take less time to build.

“From an engineering standpoint, we don’t really care what it is,” Cunningham said.

“The city will have the right to choose the lowest responsible bidder.”

Cunningham expects bidding on the project to open Aug. 1, with a contract signed by Aug. 16 and work beginning three days later.

“The idea is to have the wall completed and be out of the water area by the middle of September,” he said.

The council vote was 5-0. Council members Dave Ward and Kirsten Hytopoulos were not in attendance at Monday’s meeting, which was moved up from July 3 to accommodate the Fourth of July holiday.

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