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OregonLive: TriMet nearly triples rail bridge engineering contract

by Dylan Rivera, The Oregonian

Wednesday September 24, 2008, 5:47 PM

The TriMet board nearly tripled its spending on an engineering study for aWillamette River bridge for a light rail extension to Milwaukie.

The board approved spending $509,000 to bore on the floor of the river, an expense that it could have been delayed until later in the winter except that a federal environmental agency recently limited the timeframe for construction projects in the river.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently ended its practice of allowing construction projects to disturb salmon habitat in the river during some winter months. TriMet officials said that decision forced them to either do the geotechnical testing next summer or change its contract with HNTB Corp. to do it next month.

The change order approved Wednesday adds up to $509,000 onto a $265,000 contract with HNTB, which is performing preliminary bridge studies.

Neil McFarlane, executive director of capital projects for TriMet, said nearly all the new money will be passed through to contractors who will test the soils. HNTB will receive a small amount for analysis of the data.

Delaying the testing until next summer could produce a six to 12-month construction delay. TriMet officials said they were hopeful that the federal government would later reimburse it for part of the cost of the testing.

— Dylan Rivera; dylanrivera@news.oregonian.com

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