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Snoqualmie commits more money to 205 project

SNOQUALMIE - At its March 8 meeting the Snoqualmie City Council unanimously approved a resolution that committed the city to devote an additional $360,000 on top of money it has already set aside for the Army Corps of Engineers' 205 Snoqualmie River Flood Reduction Project, also known as the 205 project.

The request came after city staff realized that money previously earmarked for the 205 project had been used to pay for other needed flood-related expenditures, such as the purchase of a home in the floodway and legal fees from dealing with the berm on the old Weyerhaeuser, Co. mill property.

That problem was confounded when estimates for the work on the project were more than what Snoqualmie had previously budgeted.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, is set to pay for a portion of the final cost, with King County and Snoqualmie splitting the rest. Snoqualmie's share had been estimated to be around $700,000, but climbed to $900,000 after the corps recently submitted new estimates. When it was discovered around $160,000 had been used on other projects, the city's deficit was then $360,000.

The final amount Snoqualmie will have to pay is still unclear as well. Although it committed to another $360,000, the city will not know what the final cost is until the corps opens the bids for the project. The project could not go forward, however, until the city approved the additional money.

"Nobody wanted to do it this way," said Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher. "It's [finding the final cost] like nailing Jell-O to a wall."

Preliminary work on the 205 project has been done by Puget Sound Energy near its Snoqualmie Falls plant, but a bulk of the work, which includes blasting away banks of the Snoqualmie River and removing a decrepit train trestle, will be overseen by the corps.

Since some of the work can only be done during the "fish window" (a time during the summer when river work would have the least effect on fish), the city is hoping to get the matter resolved quickly so it can start work this year, or else it will have to wait until next year.

"It's [delays] frustrating," said Councilman Matt Larson. "[But] It's an extremely good investment."

Fletcher has hopes that as the bids are opened for the 205 project, the city will be able to find some cost-saving measures. Snoqualmie staff has done a lot of work that could be credited to the city, and gravel removed from the river banks could be trucked closer to the site than the originally proposed dumping area.

Fletcher, who has made the 205 project one of his top priorities since taking office, said that to come all this way on the project and still be hitting snags not always within the city's control has been disappointing.

"I feel like it's Christmas Eve and I can't open the presents," Fletcher said.

Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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