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Interchange landscaping delayed due to bid issues
99 vista will stay unsightly a while longer
City officials are eager to see the unsightly Howard K. Stevenson Memorial Interchange be spruced up with landscaping but bidding problems will likely push back the planting until November now. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Dry weeds and trash have plagued the Whitmore interchange since its dedication in 2011. City officials have shared their frustration over the appearance of the new $49.1 million interchange project, which was opened to traffic in April 2011.

Councilmen were ready on Monday to approve a contract to install the landscaping but did not because three of four bids contained mistakes. Cancelling all four bids means another month's wait from the original October target to install landscaping.

The city expected bids to come in around $715,000 but the lowest bid came in at $758,057. That low bid came from Dominguez Landscape Services of Sacramento which failed to notarize to show bonding requirements.

The next highest bid of $795,062 came from Marina Landscape of Anaheim which was disqualified because one element cost exceeded the contract total by more than five percent as dictated by Caltrans, which is paying for the work.

The third lowest bid from Empire Landscape of Davis was tossed out because it too was not notarized to confirm bonding needs were met. Empire's bid came to $859,826.

The only bid that could legally be approved on Monday for $917,884 from WABO Landscape & Construction was deemed too expensive. City Engineer Toby Wells asked the council to reject all four bids and said the city will go back out to bid and have correct bids submitted along with more competitive bidding.

Wells said that the freeway landscaping project calls for a combined use of landscaping rock, shrubs and trees.

The contract also includes three years of maintenance.

The interchange was dedicated in 2011 to the memory of Ceres Police Sgt. Howard "Howie" Stevenson who was murdered on Jan. 5, 2005 while on duty.

City officials were successful in getting former Assemblyman Bill Berryhill to carry legislation to name the new overpass and interchange for Stevenson.

Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk made a trip to Sacramento April 13 to assist Berryhill get Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 20 moved out of the Assembly Transportation Committee. It passed as a consent item.