The Odessa Record -

By Rob Coffman
Lincoln County Commissioner 

LC public works director receives award

 


On Sunday, April 2, 2017, a massive landslide occurred, sending a large portion of the Porcupine Bay Road into Lake Roosevelt. This unfortunate event was the inception of the Porcupine Bay Road Landslide Repair Project; the largest unplanned project that Lincoln County has undertaken since Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. The landslide left many of our citizens without public access to their property. It also resulted in the closure of a major National Park Service campground and boat launch, restricting tourism in the region. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured as a result of this unforeseen event. However, on that day, little did we know that public access would be prohibited beyond the slide for 25 months!

Immediately, our public works engineering team began working on solutions. But this was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Management of this project proved to be far more complex than one would have initially thought. Especially for a small, rural county with minimum staffing. Securing the services of a consultant, geo-technical engineers, design engineers and right-of-way professionals was just the beginning. But, all of the time and effort up to this point would be moot if funding for a project of this magnitude could not be obtained.

As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, Rick took the time to apply for federal funding through the Federal Emergency Relief Program for 86.5 percent of the project cost. Just the application for this program is a huge endeavor as all of the federal requirements must be followed precisely.

As we awaited approval of federal funding, and knowing full well that Lincoln County would still not be able to afford the remaining 13.5 percent match, Rick was able to secure an additional $250,000 from the National Park Service as well as obtain an advance from CRAB’s RATA account assist in covering the required match and round out the funding array.

After nearly 14 months of tedious behind-the-scenes work, a contract was awarded and construction finally commenced on a soldier-pile retaining wall system.

During construction, a major secondary slide occurred on October 3, 2018, further complicating management of the project. Due to slope stability and safety issues, work was suspended for over a month, resulting in even more geo-technical studies, assessments and engineer evaluations to determine if and when construction would resume. However, it was eventually determined that the slope was safe and work resumed through completion.

As a direct result of the outstanding level of management and professionalism displayed by Rick, along with the commitment of our dedicated public works team, we have a completed project that would rival any undertaken by even the largest of counties.

Rick and the staff at the Lincoln County Department of Public Works have gone above and beyond to ensure this project was completed successfully. Many, many hours of “behind-the-scenes” and “after-hours” work have been conducted in an effort to ensure that the citizens of Lincoln County have a safe and reliable road for the public to use. Unless you have ever dealt with the federal funding process in this capacity, it may be difficult to understand the enormity of the work involved and why a project such as this would take so long to complete. Our public works director and his team definitely deserve grand acknowledgment of their efforts.

I cannot think of a person more deserving of the WSACE “Project Manager of the Year Award” than Lincoln County’s own public works director, Rick Becker.

 

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