The state Transportation Department has awarded a $5 million contract to a Ferndale company to clear mudslide debris off Highway 530.

The Seattle Times reports the contract was awarded to IMCO General Construction, the lowest of nine bidders on the job. The state had estimated the job would cost $7.6 million to complete.

Transportation Department spokesman Travis Phelps says the agency will meet with the company next week to finalize the contract.

Meanwhile, local workers are protesting that the contract wasn't awarded to a nearby company, including one man who is collecting signatures on a petition.

Phelps says the agency will work to get local residents with the skills needed to meet with the contractor and apply for work on the project.