Dirt, weeds and trash have marred the Whitmore Interchange since its completion and dedication in 2011. But a $790,161 contract awarded on Monday will soon rid freeway blight of a city embarrassment as city officials aim to make Ceres more attractive to new business and industry.
The state completed the freeway interchange two years ago but did not allocate the funding to install the landscaping on both the west and east sides of the new overpass.
"In essence, Caltrans ran out of money," said City Engineer Toby Wells. He explained that the city received permission from the Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) to spend state transportation funds on the project. The expenditure had to be approved by the California Transportation Commission.
The landscaping will include irrigation systems, plantings, hydro-seeding, decorative rock and mulch, decomposed granite and colored stamped concrete.
With a 10 percent contingency, the project comes to a potential price-tag of $869,177.
"We're finally going to see some landscaping," said Vice Mayor Ken Lane before the council voted to give the contract to Marina Landscaping.
Construction should start in a month and be completed in the spring, said Wells.
The contract calls for Marina Landscaping of Anaheim to maintain the landscaping for three years, at which time Caltrans would take it over.
In August the Ceres City Council was ready to approve a contract to install the landscaping but did not do so because three of four bids contained mistakes. The council decided to cancel all four bids and go out to bid again since the only bid that could legally be approved was for $917,884 from WABO Landscape & Construction and it was deemed too expensive.