Airport Road Levee Expansion

A Sterling Breen Construction crew spreads dirt on top of the Airport Levee in Chehalis in August 2013.

The city of Montesano came under budget by about $400,000 on two of its recent flood mitigation projects, so it is offering to transfer funds to the Airport Levee Project underway near the Chehalis-Centralia Airport.

The Chehalis Basin Flood Authority approved the transfer during a conference call Thursday morning. The agreement sends $109,192 to Lewis County to finish the first phase of the two-part, $1.2 million airport levee project.

“The bid that came in to do the construction work for phase I and II was $400,000 less than projected. Recognizing this, Montesano’s mayor told us their would be $400,000 in savings,” Scott Boettcher, Flood Authority staff, said. “That was opportunistic news for Lewis County.”

Lewis County, the lead agency on the first phase of the Airport Levee Project, exceeded some of the original costs estimates by more than $100,000.

The funds from Montesano, along with cutting costs this summer, will make up for the overrun, according to Lewis County.

“With one project being short and one having (savings), this is a perfect example to show the Governor's office that we are flexible.” Arnold Haberstroh, who represents Chehalis on the Flood Authority, said.

Lewis County started work last summer and was scheduled to complete the first part by Oct. 28, 2013, with crews adding about 50,000 cubic yards of dirt to widen the levee.

However, Lewis County Public Works Director Tim Elsea said Sterling Breen, the contractor for the project, had to postpone work until this summer due to record rainfall in September.

Crews will finish the first part in late July or early August by adding the remaining 20,000 cubic yards of dirt.

The second portion of the project, focused on widening the levee between Interstate 5 and Airport Road, will be done by the Washington State Department of Transportation this fall or early next year, Elsea said.

The project is a cheaper option to protect I-5 during flood events compared to potentially building flood walls, according to WSDOT.

The Airport Levee Project is being funded by state money awarded to the Flood Authority.

The final result of the project will offer protection to the airport, I-5 and the complex of retail stores that generate about $550,000 of income per day, according to the Public Works Department.

As for Montesano, it is confident the excess funds of about $300,000 from the first and second phase will be enough to cover the final, third phase of its flood mitigation project.

Karen Valenzuela, vice-chair of the Flood Authority, said the transfer of funds is a positive use of capital for both communities.

“This seems like a great use of resources we do have,” Valenzuela said.

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