Council OKs extra money to address peat issues found during Ballinger Park trail construction

Work on the Balllinger Park trail earlier this month. (Photo by David Carlos)

Responding to the discovery of an unstable peat base during construction of the Ballinger Park Trail, the Mountlake Terraece City Council at its Sept. 19 business meeting approved a $75,000 change order to cover the additional work required to shore up portions of the trail running along the park’s east side. The council also approved a $50,000 contingency fee in case other problems arise.

The council on July 28 voted to award a $297,000 contract to Wyser Construction for construction of the trail, which will provide an accessible pathway through the park as well as to the universally accessible playground currently under construction.

Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz explained that the degree of unstable peat found during construction of the 8-foot-wide, 1,554-linear-foot asphalt trail took the contractor by surprise. In response, the city brought in an on-call geotechnical company, which recommended additional excavation along about two-thirds of the trail, along with extra layers of crushed rock and a soil stabilization fabric to accommodate heavy equipment needed to place the asphalt in those areas.

Betz said he estimates the project will be completed around the first week of October.

Councilmember Erin Murray asked if there was anything the city could have done differently to avoid the problem. Betz replied that the city conducted the initial geotechnical assessment and didn’t anticipate the extent of the peat that was discovered.

Councilmember Steve Woodard said he drove by the trail construction project Monday and noted that new trail will be a game changer for park users. “You can see how that’s going to really change the use of that park and make accessible for a lot more people,” he said.

Acting Public Works Director Phil Williams, left, presents the Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program to the Mountlake Terrace City Council Monday night.

In other business, the council also approved, after public hearings, the city’s Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (read more about that in our earlier story here) and code changes that would move all the city’s quasi-judicial decision-making to a hearing examiner (see our earlier story here).

During public comment Monday night, Developer Duane Landsverk, who owns Landsverk Quality Homes in Mountlake Terrace, encouraged the council to address the poor conditions of many of the city’s streets.

“It’s really concerning to see the deferred maintenance of our road system and the potholes that we all have to navigate throughout the city,” he said. “I’d appreciate if council would try to work with staff to find some funds that would help.” He noted that his business has “50-plus cars…that come and go every day and the maintenance expense of those vehicles are far in excess of what the tax would be.”

Also during public comment, Nancy Blevins, a 22-year Mountlake Terrace resident who lives on corner of 48th Avenue West and 221st Street Southwest, asked for more 25 mph speed limit signs in her neighborhood to deter speeders along 48th. She also noted that all six pedestrian flags at her intersection, designated to help those crossing the roadway, have been missing for a couple of months and need to be replaced.

— By Teresa Wippel

  1. Dear Editor,
    Thank you for reporting comments by the public at Council meetings. Comments this week were just common sense issues that effect anyone that drives a car.

  2. Who is surprised at the unstable peat base at Ballinger Park? It floods there every year, and that’s why the people who leased it as a golf course broke the lease and left! The city should have torn down the existing playground and expanded it to include special needs scenarios. That particular area does not flood in the winter.

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