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July 20, 2019 | 3:53am
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Thornton Street overpass design presentation given at City Council meeting

Last night’s City Council meeting included a presentation by representatives of the engineering firm hired by the City of Ferndale (COF) to develop the design and provide cost estimates for the proposed Thornton Street overpass.

It was 2016 when the last design update was presented to the Ferndale City Council. At that time, the engineering firm initially hired by COF, Shearer Design LLC of Seattle, had brought the design to about 30% of completion but ceased operations shortly after. The COF then hired Reichhardt & Ebe Engineering to pick up where Shearer Design had left off.

Reichhardt & Ebe Engineering representatives attended last night’s regular meeting of the Ferndale City Council and presented the following slide show and provided explanations and additional details of their design, which is said to be 60% complete.


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Details regarding how the design presented Monday differed from the one presented to the council in 2016 were not discussed in any detail but there was one significant difference. The cost of the overpass project was estimated at $21,366,748 and that amount included a 20% contingency allowance for unforeseen expenses such as sudden increases in material costs or regulatory changes. The design options presented in 2016 had higher estimated costs ranging between approximately $27 million and $31 million.

The Washington legislature included $19.2 million for the Thornton Street Overpass project in their 2016 supplemental transportation budget. This will be received in bits and pieces by the COF over several years with most of it in later years. City Administrator Greg Young commented during Monday’s council meeting the schedule of funding from the State is surprisingly well-aligned with the schedule proposed by the engineers (see the proposed schedule in the presentation above).

While this cost estimate is much closer to the $19 million promised by the State legislature, there is still need for the COF to be prepared to spend more. But, Young said, the COF has been saving money for just such a possibility.

BNSF Rail officials, according to COF staff, are expected to approve the current design in the near future. Their initial response had only a few minor requests that COF staff said could be easily addressed.

After over 3 decades of planning and strategizing, it appears construction on the Thornton Street Overpass could begin in 2021 after an initial 18 months of preparing the ground (preloading) in some areas where the bridge supports will be installed.

The overpass will provide a second route between I-5 and west Ferndale neighborhoods that does not involve a railroad crossing. The first being Main Street. It is hoped the Thornton Street overpass will relieve some of the traffic volume currently on Main Street.

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