Kenai approves culvert projects

Posted: Sunday, April 05, 2009

With a belief that planned Kenai Watershed Forum culvert work will not attract adult salmon, and consequently hungry bears, to streams coursing through the city, Kenai council members on Wednesday pledged their support to three fish passage projects.

The watershed forum plans to apply for federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to replace culverts on three Kenai streams to restore passage of juvenile fish where culverts pose migration barriers, according to Executive Director Robert Ruffner.

One project would replace a 3-foot culvert in a creek near Lawton Drive with an 8-foot culvert; another would replace a 4-foot culvert near 4th Avenue and Spruce Street with an 8-foot culvert; and a third project would remove non-functioning culverts near Cohoe Avenue.

Ruffner said because of the large amounts of earth that would need to be removed to make way for the much larger culverts, the projects could prove costly to the city if it is ever put in a position to do the work in order to comply with state statutes.

"The opportunity here is we can put these in the American Recovery and Reinvestment package," Ruffner said, adding there is no guarantee the watershed forum grant application will be approved.

"These streams are habitat for juvenile fish," Ruffner said. "It won't be attracting adult fish."

Councilman Rick Ross wanted to know what assurance the city has that the work will not create a problem by allowing adult salmon to swim up into the creeks where they possibly would attract bears into residential areas of Kenai.

"These streams are just not conducive to adult fish coming in," said Ruffner.

All council members except Ross and Mayor Pat Porter voted in favor of the resolution supporting the funding application for the culvert work.

The council also voted to approve a $223,658 contract award to North Star Paving and Construction Inc., for paving South Ames Road and Basin View Way this year. North Star out bid Alaska Roadbuilders Inc., the only other bidder on the project. Both bids came in under the engineer's estimate, according to a memo from consulting engineers.

Two contracts were awarded for work to be done at the Vintage Pointe senior housing center, one involving window replacement and one to replace a fire sprinkler system.

A $94,297 contract was awarded to World Wide Roofing and Construction Inc. to replace casement windows in the housing apartments. A question was raised by one of the unsuccessful bidders two weeks ago regarding the quality of window World Wide was planning to use.

City Manager Rick Koch told the council Wednesday, the window being proposed is a better window than the one required by the specifications advertised for the job.

The council also awarded a contract for the Vintage Pointe dry sprinkler system replacement. The $49,574 award went to Alaska Automatic Fire Protection Inc. The dry sprinkler system is a network of empty pipes through unheated areas of the housing facility that fill with water only in the event of an actual fire.

The firm's bid was much as 50 percent lower than others bidding on the project, which Public Works Director Wayne Ogle attributed to Alaska Automatic's "business model of low overhead and limited staffing."

In a memo, Ogle said the owner of the company provides all the labor with assistance from a helper, giving the company the ability to significantly underbid competitors.

Koch said earlier Alaska Automatic Fire Protection is certified in sprinkler system installation.

Alaska Roadbuilders Inc. was awarded a $451,676 contract for work at the Kenai Municipal Airport including safety lighting along taxiways as well as grading and drainage work also along the taxiways.

In response to a request by Finance Director Terry Eubank, consideration of contract awards for airport apron asphalt rehabilitation work was postponed by the council. Final Federal Aviation Administration grant amounts are to be based upon contractor bid amounts, Eubank said in a memo. City appropriations are to be aligned with bid amounts and grant awards.

Wednesday's meeting was the first Kenai council meeting to be video streamed live through the city's Web site. Interested residents will be able to review the proceedings by logging on to the site at

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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