Undergrounding to be done by Caseco

With Maher Abed resigning as Port Orchard director of Public Works on Friday, the difficult task of overseeing the undergrounding downtown utilities falls to Councilman Rob Putaansuu.

As of April 18, the city had received no bids on three smaller portions of the overall project.

The undergrounding was cut into three parts after initial bids came in close to $1 million — the city budgeted $25,000.

The project involves moving electrical, phone and Internet lines underground at Sidney and Frederick Avenues and Bay Street.

The bidding process allows the city to solicit individual contractors if it receives no bids for the project, so Putaansuu contacted Caseco.

Looking over the project, Putaansuu is predicting the project will cost up to $150,000 more than budgeted, but he maintains the project needs to be done.

“We can’t afford to do this — we can’t afford not to,” he said at Monday’s City Council meeting. “I want to find a way to do this if we can.”

Because negotiations with Caseco became public, other members of council wondered if other contractors could make a lower offer, but Putaansuu wanted to go with Caseco.

“These guys bent over backwards to help us out,” he said. “I think we should give them these two jobs.”

After the council approved continuing the project, Mayor Lary Coppola congratulated Caseco’s Scott Swenning on getting the job.

Swenning responded, “Thank you — I think.”

Outside the meeting Swenning said he was happy to help out, but said there were a lot to work out on the projects.

“We need to sit down and talk and work out details,” he said.

Putaansuu said the project has been very frustrating to work on given the lack of response and the mounting costs.

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