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Council gets surprise price tag for West Lake Sammamish Parkway project

Bellevue city councilmembers were bothered to learn - after celebrating its completion more than a month ago - the West Lake Sammamish Parkway construction project came at a cost 37 percent higher than what was bid, but reluctantly agreed to pay the additional $1.7 million on Monday.

The council had been expecting the capital improvement project to come in around 20 percent more than the $4.8 million contract with Active Construction before its August recess, but unforeseen challenges to the project caused a significant increase to $6.57 million when also trying to finish construction on time.

Phase 1 of the project began earlier this year and included constructing a 10-foot-wide multi-use path on the west side of the street, two general purpose travel lanes and a four foot shoulder on the east side.

Staff told council Monday the contractor and city ran into several impediments during construction, including abandoned pipes and pipes connected to existing structures, scheduling issues and an asbestos cement water main where stormwater improvements needed to be made.

Councilmember Claudia Balducci said there are no signs of negligence on the part of designers and the contractor, making litigation an unlikely option to try to stem the cost. She added the city's accelerating the project likely didn't help, however, had it not done so the road might still be closed today.

Deputy Mayor Jennifer Robertson said she is pleased the project was completed, but did not appreciate city staff committing to one of the highest project overruns in recent history without first seeking the council's approval.

Without enough legal counsel to make a decision, she said, Robertson voted against paying the additional cost on Monday.

"I'm going to pay for this because it's, unfortunately, the fiscally responsible thing to do," said Councilmember John Chelminiak. "You pay your bills."

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