Readiness and Finances
The BGC will begin construction of Phase Two work February 2015 and anticipates early obligation of TIGER funds in the fourth quarter of 2014. We have absolute confidence in the ability of the project to obligate TIGER funds prior to the USDOT priority obligation date of June 30, 2016 and obligation cutoff date of September 30, 2016. All necessary local approvals have been secured and the documentation required to secure a Documented Categorical Exclusion under NEPA has been completed and is ready for formal review and approval upon award of funds. Inclusion of the project in the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and the Washington Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is assured by our regional MPO, Puget Sound Regional Council, in their letter of support. As a matter of state and regional policy, final NEPA documentation cannot be formally approved by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) until funds are awarded and the project is placed on the STIP.
The technical feasibility of the BGC has been the subject of intensive engineering and design efforts, including the Burke-Gilman Trail Corridor Study and the Burke-Gilman Trail Design Concept Plan. Furthermore, the project has been considered by the University Design Review Board, University Landscape Architecture Committee, University of Washington Architectural Commission, partner agency reviewers, citizen advisory boards and in civic organization forums.
Recognizing that the BGC includes a suite of innovative design treatments, the UW recently constructed a demonstration section of the new trail design to provide opportunities for the design team, reviewing and approving bodies, and the general public to both experience the new treatments as users and to observe interactions with the infrastructure to ensure it achieves the desired behavioral outcomes. Expert and citizen feedback from the demonstration section has been incorporated into the final project design.
These extensive design and review processes were intended to ensure that the BGC would not encounter technical complications that could adversely impact obligation or construction timelines. The UW is confident that all technical issues have been identified and mitigated through its robust internal, partner and public processes. A detailed statement of work is included on pages two and three as a Detailed List of Improvements.
This $14 million TIGER grant request represents the final funding for the BGC, allowing the UW to proceed with construction in Q1 2015. A summary budget is provided in Section III Grant Funds & Sources. The attached Excel spreadsheet and appendices provide a detailed project budget, including a breakdown of how funds will be expended, their sources, and project segmentation and phasing.
The cost estimate has been developed by the design team and independently reviewed by UW estimators. The UW has incorporated cost escalation and contingencies appropriate to the current level of design, and has additional reserves beyond the contingency funds to mitigate any budget risks.
All UW funds identified in the project funding plan are in hand and have been transferred to the project budget. Contingency reserves in the event of withdrawal by a funding partner are designated in the appropriate operating budget. The recipient has net assets in excess of $5.5 billion and a demonstrated capability in managing grants, currently managing over $1 billion in grant-funded research each year (http://goo.gl/Qet5o). The UW’s substantial scale and extraordinary historical performance in the administration of federal grants should give USDOT confidence in the ability of the recipient to successfully carry out the contracted work.
Assessment of project risks & mitigation strategies
With all non-TIGER funds in hand, contingencies fully funded, current ownership of all right-of-way (except intersected SDOT right-of-way) and ownership of all adjacent land, extensive review processes materially complete, and a physical demonstration of the strategies to be deployed successfully conducted, the UW is confident that all known risks have been fully mitigated and that unknown risks have been significantly limited.
Three areas of limited, unknown risk persist
As the project site is a former rail corridor, the UW anticipates some level of legacy soil contamination (Class 3) that will need to be mitigated if discovered. The project budget and schedule anticipate this condition and are informed by the soils encountered during other work in the corridor.
The UW has sufficient contingency funds and the project schedule has sufficient flexibility to address any soil remediation issues without jeopardizing project completion on-time and on-budget. Soil testing prior to construction will allow any remediation to be integrated into the project schedule without work disruption.
The project site is constrained and adjacent to another project site. UW’s experience in administering construction projects in constrained sites has allowed for the consideration of this factor in cost estimating and contingency determination. The adjacent project is also a UW project with a group of partners that overlaps with the BGC – creating a strong motivation and efficient structure for project coordination. Any remaining conflicts can easily be addressed through work sequencing.
An arrowhead discovered during excavation near Phase One of the project highlights the uncertainty experienced by all water-adjacent projects in the Northwest as it relates to cultural artifacts. UW project managers have experience responding to the discovery of probable cultural artifacts and are skilled at efficiently completing steps outlined by state and federal law for artifact protection. The UW has multiple archaeologists on staff and the efficiency of response is further enabled by the fact that the UW hosts the state natural history museum just minutes from the project site.
The project schedule and budget both have sufficient contingencies to address any cultural artifacts discovered in the project site. NEPA has been satisfied for Phase One with a Documented Categorical Exclusion already approved. Review for Phase Two will involve the same interested parties and incorporates similar approaches to sensitive areas/objects. The UW has a high level of confidence that this factor is fully mitigated and in its ability to obtain the Documented Categorical Exclusion.
All pre-construction activities will be complete and grant funding awarded will be obligated no later than June 30, 2014. The BGMC includes early coordinated construction, expected to begin within three months of the anticipated award date.
The UW owns all project right-of-way. Where the project intersects Seattle right-of-way, construction easements are being secured to allow for infrastructure to transition seamlessly across right-of way boundaries. With the City as a funding partner for the BGMC, efficient collaboration at these points of intersection is guaranteed.