City staff prepared for a busy 2013 schedule

January 3, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Newcastle city staff members spent the month of December gearing up for what is expected to be a busy new year.

With the passage of its 2013 budget, the City Council tasked staff members with a multitude of projects that should have them working at full capacity throughout the year.

“The City Council has made an aggressive pitch towards lots of projects in 2013, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Public Works Director Mark Rigos said. “So, I’m excited about all of the work that’s going to happen.”

The Public Works Department in particular faces an action-packed 2013, filled with several transportation and stormwater projects.

Staff will stay busy working to maintain city streets in the new year, with the city spending the most it ever has on pavement management, Rigos said.

In addition to the $683,000 to be spent on pavement overlay to ensure streets are maintained at a certain level, the staff will also manage a significant, and necessary, rehabilitation project on phase one of Coal Creek Parkway.

“In 2011, the city of Newcastle had our largest pavement-rehab effort ever,” Rigos said. “It was approximately $1 million. Well, this one is going to be 50 percent more — it’s going to be about $1.5 million.”

Rigos’ staff will also manage the construction of two sidewalk projects on portions of 116th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 73rd Place.

The Public Works Department must additionally oversee several stormwater projects, beginning with the task of stabilizing a hillside by Newcastle Golf Club Road, where a 2010 landslide occurred.

The landslide repair will begin this month and run until March, but the inconvenience to drivers should be minimal. During construction, at least one lane of Newcastle Golf Club Road will always be open, so the longest delay drivers will face should only be a few minutes, Rigos said.

Staff will also work on a Lake Boren drainage mitigation project that will allow the city to regulate the lake’s water level and prevent nuisance flooding. Furthermore, the city has several other small stormwater projects that it must attend to in 2013.

Despite the large workload, which doesn’t even include minor maintenance projects such as trail work, Rigos said his staff is excited and eager for the upcoming year.

“I think we can do it,” he said. “Nobody wants to be bored at their job, and I have got lots of work to do. So, I’m certainly not bored around here.”

Public Works Department workers won’t be the only ones working long hours in 2013. The Community Development Department also expects to stay busy as development activity ramps up in Newcastle.

Both departments will be active in working with developers, especially those for the Mutual Materials site and the new Renton School District middle school.

Community Development Director Tim McHarg may be new to the city, but he said he is prepared to hit the ground running in 2013.

“I think planners have come to realize very clearly through this recession that our jobs literally are dependent upon development activity,” he said.

The city may have to increase its usage of outside consultants in order to maintain a handle on 2013’s heavy workload. City Manager Rob Wyman said that staff will have to ramp up a little bit to ensure everything gets done.

“Before we get really, really busy, we are going to get really busy internally to figure out what exactly we need to complete all these projects,” he said.

Even with 2013’s workload and the stress it may put on city staff, Wyman, Rigos and McHarg all agreed that it is a good problem to have.


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