The Washington State Department of Transportation has tapped Graham Contracting LTD to design and build the State Route 520 Montlake Project for $455.35 million, the firm submitting the lowest of three bids, which was still $30 million more than WSDOT’s higher-end estimate.

“The best value is a combination of bid price and technical proposal points,” according to an Oct. 10 news release.

Graham Contracting competed against Kiewit Manson and Atkinson/Traylor JV for the Montlake contract.

WSDOT’s cost range had been between $375 million to $425 million.

“The winning proposal commits to completing the project earlier than WSDOT’s projected schedule,” according to the news release, which sets early 2019 as the targeted start date. “Graham also commits to reducing the project’s environmental and community impacts.”

The projected start date had been late 2018 when WSDOT updated the public on the reconstruction project back in April.

The Montlake Project is one of four remaining SR-520 reconstruction projects, known as “The Rest of the West,” and will make major changes to the Montlake interchange that includes a new West Approach Bridge South for eastbound traffic that will connect to the floating bridge over Lake Washington, a lid over 520 and a bicycle/pedestrian land bridge east of the lid that connects the Washington Park Arboretum and East Montlake Park.

All three contractors that put in bids had already been shortlisted by then.

“We want to thank all three teams that submitted innovative proposals. We know that costs have continued to escalate in this booming Puget Sound economy. Graham’s proposal combines a high technical score with the lowest cost and we look forward to working with them,” said SR 520 Program deputy administrator Omar Jepperson in the news release. “When complete, the new Montlake interchange and lid will be a community hub with multimodal transportation options for all. The new project will provide greater safety and reliability for drivers, transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

WSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration still need to resolve a legal challenge to the environmental review of the project as it relates to the Montlake Market, which was filed by the owners and Montlake Community Club. MCC Communications chair Shannon Cumming reports a federal court hearing could be set for spring 2019, after a December start date was struck.

A final environmental impact statement in 2011 had recognized community support for the market and didn’t plan for its condemnation. When WSDOT did a reevaluation in 2016, it realized it would need the property after all.

“It was a shock to us, obviously,” Montlake Market owner Scott Baker told MPT during WSDOT’s April open house.

During the early phase of construction, Montlake Boulevard East will be widened and an additional left-turn lane will be added on Montlake for accessing the eastbound on-ramp. A third westbound lane on East Lake Washington Boulevard will also be added, for direct access to the new eastbound loop on-ramp.

The eastbound SR-520 on-ramp in the Arboretum is expected to close after the Montlake interchange improvements are completed.

WSDOT reports Montlake Project construction is expected to be completed as early as 2023.