The glint of golden shovels could be seen in Sultan last week as the city held the ground-breaking ceremony for the High Avenue reconstruction and the 4th Street overlay projects.
The ceremony took place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, in front of Sultan Middle School. In attendance were Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick; Washington State Senator Kirk Pearson; Sultan City Councilmembers John Seehuus and Marianne Naslund; Transportation Improvement Board Executive Director Steve Gorcester; Sultan Public Works Director Mick Matheson; Sultan School District Superintendant Dan Chaplik; SRV Construction President Steve Verbarendse; Blueline Group Principal Ken Lauzen; Robert Knoll from Suzan DelBene’s office and others.
The groundbreaking event was coordinated by Sultan’s Grants and Economic Development Coordinator, Donna Murphy, and Maggie Jones, the Marketing Coordinator for the Blueline Group. Blueline, a Kirkland-based consulting firm, provided the engineering on both the High Avenue and the 4th Street overlay projects.
Senator Pearson congratulated the city for their efforts and took a moment to recall a different event that took place in Sultan about 15 years ago. He explained that at the time, Mayor Eslick was a Sultan City Councilmember, as was Seehuus. Naslund worked for the city of Sultan in an administrative capacity, and Murphy was a grant-writer.
“We celebrated the first stoplight going through on Highway 2,” said Pearson. “Which was wonderful, and showed that the community of Sultan wasn’t a town anymore; it was a city.”
Pearson had to chuckle about the city’s tenacity when it comes to lobbying for projects in Olympia. He explained that, each year at the start of the legislative session, the city of Sultan converges on him in a pack, bringing with them their list of projects.
“They have a deep vision and that’s why they’ve achieved a lot of dollars throughout the years; through our state capitol budget, through the TIB and through other funding sources, as well,” said Pearson. “I’m just here because I was here 15 years ago and I enjoyed it, and I enjoy it now.”
While the High Avenue reconstruction project is being done in conjunction with the 4th Street overlay project, they are actually two separate projects when it comes to the grant funding secured through the State of Washington Transportation Improvement Board (TIB). TIB funding is a critical resource to small municipalities who otherwise have extremely limited amounts of money to pay for road repairs and maintenance.
The city received $527,000 in TIB grant funding to support the transportation aspects of the High Avenue project and $354,000 in TIB grant funding to support the 4th Street overlay project.
Both Mayor Eslick and Sultan Public Works Director Mick Matheson stressed that, without the TIB funding, the city would not be able to afford the types of capital projects necessary to repair and rebuild the streets.
“The city gets about $12,000 a year that we typically use for chip-seal projects to try to preserve our streets,” said Matheson. “That’s really all the money we have to apply to street maintenance, so without the Transportation Improvement Board, we would be in a world of hurt.”
Matheson and Eslick thanked TIB Executive Director Steve Gorcester, who has been instrumental to the city as far as locating different funding sources for roadway reconstruction and repairs.
Gorcester commented that he’s been in Sultan frequently, including during the three phases of the Sultan Basin Road project, the Alder Avenue reconstruction project and now the High Avenue and 4th Street projects.
“It’s making a difference,” said Gorcester. “You can see the overall condition of the streets in the community is being upgraded and the staff is making sure that the utilities are getting done at the same time.”
Because the condition of High Avenue had deteriorated too much to be repaired via an overlay, the project will include a complete reconstruction of the roadway from 1st to 4th Streets. The project will also include replacing the sewer and water utilities, funding for which was secured through a water and sewer bond obtained by the city.
The acquisition of the bond was necessary for the city to fund improvements to the utilities. In order to obtain grant funding through the TIB, the roads must meet specific criteria, and TIB funding can be used for transportation improvements only.
The High Avenue project will also include new curbs and gutters in specific areas, with stormwater improvements also being provided to improve drainage in the area.
The 4th Street project will run from Alder Avenue to Fir, and will include grinding and overlaying the street. Matheson explained that this will help preserve the street and delay the need for an overall reconstruction. Storm drainage improvements will also be provided in specific areas, and water and sewer improvements will take place, as well. The project will include ADA accessible ramps, which is required for any overlay project.
“I have to commend Mick because he deals with the residents that live on the street and with the school district,” said Mayor Eslick. “It’s not an easy task to bring everyone to the table and have them all be happy.”
“It’s going to be inconvenient for all of our residents and the school district, but we’ve been meeting now on a weekly basis to make sure that everybody’s on the same page,” continued Eslick. “If there are issues, please call the city, call Mick or call me. It’s all about making sure that this project runs smoothly.”
The city had hoped to be able to start the project earlier in the summer, but it simply wasn’t possible.
The target end date for the High Avenue and 4th Street projects is sometime in November. Fortunately, SRV Construction was the low bidder on both jobs, so the city will be able to utilize the same contractor for both projects. SRV Construction was also awarded the contract for the Alder Avenue reconstruction project, which began in July.
Matheson reported that so far the Alder Avenue project is on schedule and should be paved by mid-September.