A Ferndale company has been awarded a $5 million contract to clear mudslide debris off Highway 530, even as those who live closer to the March 22 slide complain that work should have gone to them.
IMCO General Construction was the lowest of nine bidders for the job, with a bid of $4,959,924. The state’s engineering estimate for the job was $7.6 million.
Travis Phelps, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said the agency will meet with the contractor next week to finalize a contract.
The contract does not include rebuilding the highway, which will be the subject of a later contract.
The contract award comes as a Darrington man has collected more than 700 signatures on a petition saying residents of the area that were most affected by the slide should have been considered for work on the clearing.
Brian Roggenbuck, a logging contractor, said the process used by WSDOT for selecting a contractor to clear the corridor favored large companies and excluded capable local residents and companies.
He wrote to Gov. Jay Inslee saying that those who “volunteered their time, equipment and energy in the search and recovery effort” should be hired now that paid jobs clearing the roadway are available.
Lisa Harper, a spokeswoman for Inslee, said the governor is aware of the issue and that his strong preference is to “source work locally” when possible. She said Inslee is relying on WSDOT to see how that can be done.
Phelps said the agency will help put together “meet-and-greet” sessions in which area residents with the skills needed can meet the contractor and apply for work on the project.
Roggenbuck today said the sessions could be “a step in the right direction,” but he doubts it will satisfy many of the workers who have been out searching for victims since just after the slide.
“It’s not just a money issue for us,” he said. “We just really wanted to be involved in it because there are 100,000 yards of material out there that needs to be searched, and we feel we’re the ones that need to continue the search.”