Readiness and Finances
The Burke-Gilman Multimodal Connector (BGMC) will begin construction of early coordinated work in late 2013 and anticipates early obligation of TIGER V funds in the first quarter of 2014. We have absolute confidence in the ability of the project to obligate TIGER V prior to the USDOT priority obligation date of June 30, 2014 and obligation cutoff date of September 30, 2014. All necessary local approvals have been secured and the steps required to secure a Documented Categorical Exclusion under NEPA have all been taken with confirmation anticipated prior to award.
The technical feasibility of the BGMC 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 BGMC 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 design effort for the coordinated early work and final project design.
These extensive design and review processes were intended to ensure that the BGMC 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.
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, has a projected eight-month construction cushion and has secured additional insurance reserves beyond the contingency funds to mitigate any budget risks.
This $12 million TIGER V grant request represents the final funding for the BGMC, allowing the UW to proceed with construction. 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. 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.
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.
Prior incorporation of the project into the STIP and existing funding through the PSRC ensure that all regional approvals have been satisfied, which materially shortens the critical path to obligating funds.
Assessment of project risks and 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 has sufficient contingency funds and the project schedule has sufficient slack 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 BGMC – creating a strong motivation and efficient structure for project coordination. Any remaining conflicts can easily be addressed through work sequencing.
- An arrowhead discovered near the trail during excavation 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 on foot. The project schedule and budget both have sufficient contingencies to address any cultural artifacts discovered in the project site.