City of Kent awards contract to remove Green River sandbags

Crews from SoundEarth Strategies Construction, LLC of Seattle remove sandbags Tuesday from around Kent Elementary School. The city of Kent will begin to remove sandbags in mid-July from along the Green River Trail. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Crews from SoundEarth Strategies Construction, LLC of Seattle remove sandbags Tuesday from around Kent Elementary School. The city of Kent will begin to remove sandbags in mid-July from along the Green River Trail.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Say goodbye to the nearly 19,000 giant sandbags along the Green River levees in Kent.

The city of Kent awarded the sandbag removal job Monday to AGR Contracting, Inc., of Monroe, with the lowest responsive bid of $894,628. Thirteen companies bid for the project, including a high bid of $2.26 million by Steelhead Construtors, Inc., of California. City engineer Nick Horn estimated the project at $1.2 million.

"The goal is to have all bags removed by the end of September," said Kelly Peterson, city environmental conservation supervisor, in an email. "It may take longer to make any repairs to the trail if the sandbags caused damage."

Work to remove the giant sandbags is expected to start in mid-July, Peterson said.

The City Council on June 19 pre-authorized Mayor Suzette Cooke to sign a contract up to $1.6 million, the amount approved by the King County Flood Control District. The flood district will cover the costs by delaying levee projects along the river. The district is funded through a county-wide property levy of 10 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

“Finally we will have our Green River Trail back,” Cooke said in a city media release. “We all want to see these sandbags removed as fast as possible.  Now that the dam is operating at full capacity, getting them down is a top priority.  I will be so glad to see Kent stop looking like a war zone.”

The bags stretch for 12 miles and cover more than half of the path of the Green River Trail, a popular walking and bicycling destination prior to the placing of the sandbags.

Sandbags that are about 3-feet high have lined the trail for nearly three years for extra flood protection because of damage in 2009 to an abutment next to the Howard Hanson Dam on the upper Green River. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last fall it had repaired the abutment and can operate Hanson Dam at full capacity, which means the sandbags are no longer needed. No heavy rainstorms ever tested the sandbags.

Crews will remove sandbags first between South 200th Street and South 212th Street as well as a portion of the Horseshoe Bend area on the south end of the city.

"These are being completed first to minimize delays between the sandbag removal project and other city projects in these areas," Peterson said. "After these areas are finished, the contractor will remove the bags in a manner AGR Contracting determines to be most efficient."

The city contract requires the contractor to use rubber-tired or rubber-tracked equipment to minimize damage to the paved trail surface. About 2,300 giant sandbags within the Riverbend Golf Complex can be emptied for fill material along the perimeter of the golf course. The contractor must find sites away from the river for the rest of the sand as well as get rid of the black plastic covering the bags.

AGR Contracting will deliver the sand as fill material to Cedar Grove Composting, which will evaluate the sand for its best use in their operations.

The Green River Trail will reopen when all work is completed, though some segments may open sooner, Peterson said.

"The city asks the community for patience as this work is completed," he said.

Crews from SoundEarth Strategies Construction, LLC of Seattle started to remove giant sandbags Monday from around Kent Elementary School as part of a contract awarded by the Kent School District. The company also will remove bags from around Neely-O'Brien Elementary and Mill Creek Middle School.

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