It looks like the city of Soldotna's traffic study will go ahead, after the Soldotna City Council accepted a larger grant from the state and upped the amount it is willing to pay.
The council then approved a negotiated contract with Mike Tauriainen, P.E., Consulting Engineers Inc. for $75,000 to do the traffic study, which will help the city plan for the future.
Tauriainen's original bid was $98,580, but that was almost double the amount available. The study is being funded by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities with a 9 percent match from the city.
The council turned down a resolution awarding Tauriainen the contract at the higher price in February, but in the meantime, the city applied for a larger grant from the state, and Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake negotiated a new contract with Tauri-ainen, which reduced the cost to $74,986.
The initial state grant was for $48,485, requiring a $4,515 city match for a total cost of $50,000. The increased grant is for $68,227.50, with a city match of $7,272.50, for a total of $75,500. The extra $514 dollars would pay for advertising the bid and paying for public meetings.
The price reduction comes from fewer days of counting traffic -- 2 1/2 days rather than five -- and fewer public hearings.
There was a bid lower than Tauriainen's, but it wasn't accepted.
"There was nothing wrong with the other bid," said City Manager Tom Boedeker. "Both gather the same data, but what was left out was the other didn't bring in professional traffic analysts."
The study will help with vehicular and pedestrian planning for the next 20 years, according to Bonebrake. It will encompass the city and a half mile beyond city limits on all sides of town.
In the study, Tauriainen will gather data on existing and potential future vehicular and pedestrian traffic, roads and trails, and project estimates for the next 20 years. His company also will perform traffic counts on all collector streets, most commercial streets and a few residential streets.
When data gathering is done, a road and trail master plan would be created, showing where the city should improve traffic patterns, and the city's comprehensive plan will be updated.
The study also will look at the need for a second bridge across the Kenai River, possibly at the west end of Knight Drive or Redoubt Avenue, connecting to Kalifornsky Beach Road.
Tauriainen will estimate what kind of traffic flow could be expected, and a probable location. An extension of Redoubt would run straight into East Poppy Lane, though the street would probably have to dog-leg around the north corner of Kenai Peninsula Col-lege.
There will be three public hearings on the plan, though no dates have been set.
In other council news:
n Boedeker said the contract negotiations with the city employees' union and collective bargaining association continues. He said there were likely to be some issues he would want to discuss with the council behind closed doors at a later date, but did not specify what they were.
n Boedeker said there was a link on the city's World Wide Web page (www.ci.soldotna.ak.us) for people to provide input on the Soldotna economic development forum, which will be held tonight and Wednesday evening.
Both forum nights begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center, and will last until about 9 p.m. Tonight they will focus on retail and service industries, and Wednesday the topics will cover land use, the sports center and the medical community.
n The purchase of a new software package for the Soldotna Police Department was authorized at a cost of $12,445, with a $3,114 yearly maintenance and upgrade charge. The $4,000 system the department had been using was not up to the task, Boedeker said. A report from Police Chief Shirley Warner agreed.
"It ... has become apparent that we have gotten what we paid for," she said in a report to the city.
The new system's provider, Spillman Technologies, is the same company that provides a much more expensive system to the Kenai Police Department, and Warner said she has heard only good things about it. The difference in the programs is that Soldotna has no need for the dispatching element of the software, while Kenai does.
n Finance Director Joel Wilkins reported that gross sales in the city were significantly lower than the year before, and taxable sales rose only 1 percent.
n Parks and Recreation Direc-tor Andrew Carmichael said the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Asso-ciation approached his department with an idea to build a new outdoor ice rink next to the sports center, and were looking for assistance from the city. He said KPHA is interested in clearing and leveling the land this spring and have the dasher boards up by summer so the rink could be used next winter. Eventually, Carmichael said, KPHA would like to see the rink covered and refrigerated by connecting it into the sports center's system.
"But we can plow a lot of snow for the $450,000 it would take to put a lid on a rink," he said.
The next regular city council meeting is March 14.
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