Langley receives extension for infrastructure grant

County commissioners granted Langley a two-year extension, moving the deadline to Dec. 31, 2024.

A major infrastructure project in Langley has experienced enough delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic that it prompted the city to ask for an extension on a grant awarded by Island County.

In 2018, the city began addressing infrastructure needs, which resulted in the Langley Infrastructure Project, or LIP. The LIP is comprised of 14 individual projects across three different utilities – water, sewer and stormwater – and also includes a walkway and full width restoration of roads in some areas. The LIP focuses on providing utility connections to eastern Langley, which is currently served by septic systems.

The city received a $3 million grant from the county in 2019 that was contingent on the passing of a $4 million bond. Voters approved the bond.

The deadline for the county’s grant was Dec. 31, 2022. Sensing that the LIP would not be completed before the end of 2022, Langley Public Works Director Randi Perry led a presentation for Island County commissioners earlier this month about the LIP’s progress and asked for an extension of the grant’s deadline.

Commissioners agreed to a two-year extension, which moves the deadline to Dec. 31, 2024. Construction, the final phase of the LIP, is expected to begin in mid-2023.

“It was a really positive conversation,” Perry said of her meeting with the commissioners during their work session. “They were really supportive in moving things forward.”

This past week, the Langley City Council approved a contract for Phase 2C of the project. According to a memo from Perry, Phase 1 was completed in fall of 2020 and Phase 2A was completed in March 2022. The project’s second phase, which involves design and development, was divided into three parts.

“During phase 2A, material costs were historically high and unpredictable, and we identified additional wetland considerations requiring Army Corps Permitting. The permitting process will likely take 18 months,” Perry wrote in her memo to the county commissioners.

The city had just entered into an engineering contract in March 2020 for the project when the pandemic began.

Perry explained that this meant trying to find creative ways to do business without coming into contact with other people during a time when there was much uncertainty.

Perry told the commissioners that the city is hoping to find more funding for the project. The LIP received an additional $242,500 grant this May.

The preliminary estimate for the cost of the project was $7 million in 2018, which has since risen. In an email to The Record, Perry said the probable remaining cost estimate for the first 12 projects in the LIP at the 60% engineering benchmark is $8.46 million. The city has $2.26 million remaining in its grant fund for the use of design, engineering and construction of new infrastructure and $4 million in bond funds.

There is a funding gap of $2 million, which includes a $1.07 million contingency. Two projects — the thirteenth and fourteenth — are capital projects that were added to the LIP to take advantage of economies of scale, Perry explained. The revenue source for the capital improvement funds are from both utility rates and the fees charged for new connections.

“We will continue to look for grant funding to close the remaining funding gap,” Perry said. “If we are not successful at closing that gap with more grants, the capital improvement funds for each utility will fund the difference.”