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Construction on interchange may begin as early as January

Holiday shoppers rejoice. Kitsap Mall-goers will only have the ordinary traffic congestion to beat this winter. Now that the Waaga Way interchange project, at the northwestern corner of the mall, has been assigned, work is not anticipated to begin until after the shopping rush.

The year-long construction also should have little impact on next year’s shoppers thanks to a minimal traffic impact stipulation included in the contract for the holiday seasons because the project is adjacent to the heart of shoppers’ destination in Silverdale.

The state awarded the $16.7 million contract to Kent-based Scarsella Bros., Inc. to build a new interchange connecting State Route 3 and State Route 303, aka Waaga Way. The project was awarded Friday and the contractor now has 20 days to return the paperwork to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“It could take us into early next year before they (begin construction),” said Amity Trowbridge, project engineer at the WSDOT Port Orchard office. “That timeframe ... works well with the holiday season for the mall.”

Because the contractor has the option of requesting a 20-day extension for the contract papers, Trowbridge projected Scarsella Bros., Inc. likely won’t actually dig into the work until January 2006.

“Because of the time of year and the rainy season, the contractor may want some extra time beyond that,” she added.

The project has been in the pipes for two years. It was finally advertised on Aug. 22 and the seven bids received were opened in mid-October. It took about a month for WSDOT to award the contract because of budget considerations and reviewing the itemized list in the bids.

“We had to figure out how the extra funding fit into our budget,” Trowbridge said. “We had to make sure everybody could budget the extra funds.”

Compared to the engineer’s estimate of a $14.3 million construction cost, the Scarsella Bros. Inc. offer was $16.7 million.

Trowbridge speculated Hurricane Katrina was to blame for most of the disparity.

“I think it’s impacted everything as far as prices,” she said.

Even though there were a good number of bidders, therefore a competitive race for the contract, the lowest bid still came in higher than expected, Trowbridge explained.

Only a few days after the project went up for bid, Katrina slammed into the Gulf

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