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Kenai works toward wider road

If Wal-Mart is built, more traffic will come

Posted: Friday, April 06, 2007

 

  Traffic moves Thursday afternoon on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. The Kenai City Council is asking the state for the authority to do the design work required to widen the portion of the road that is two lanes wide. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Traffic moves Thursday afternoon on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. The Kenai City Council is asking the state for the authority to do the design work required to widen the portion of the road that is two lanes wide.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

As the day nears when Wal-Mart will have a supercenter in Kenai, city leaders are beginning preparations for an anticipated surge in the number of motorists aiming toward the world’s largest retailer.

Even before the rush, the number and severity of crashes along the two-lane section of the Kenai Spur Highway between Soldotna and Kenai is already on the rise, according to Kenai officials.

On Wednesday, the Kenai City Council approved a resolution seeking the state’s permission to let the city design the widening of the busy road from Mile 3 near Linda Avenue on the Soldotna end to Mile 8 near Swires Road in Kenai.

City Manager Rick Koch told the council if the state does the design work, 45 percent of the project’s cost would come off the top as the state’s administrative fee.

He told council members the city would perform utility relocation, complete necessary environmental documents, perform right-of-way acquisition and complete the project design. The state would reimburse Kenai for the work, according to the plan.

Koch said the state would never give up oversight of the actual construction.

A Department of Transportation and Public Facilities report provided to council members lists costs of three project alternatives: $8,580,000 for improving the existing road and adding turn pockets at five intersections; $31.2 million for widening the road to three lanes; and $46.5 million for widening the road to five lanes.

Actual construction costs for the three alternatives are $2.4 million, $20 million and $26.5 million, respectively.

According to Koch, if the city performs the preliminary design tasks, the project would be able to begin much sooner than if the state did all the work.

The city council also approved an ordinance Wednesday night allowing lessees of city property to apply to purchase the land after completing developments as agreed.

If the lessee chooses, the land can be purchased within 12 months of completion of developments, at not less than fair market value.

Council members Mike Boyle and Bob Molloy voted against the ordinance.

“I don’t think sales of land are in the best interest in the future of the city,” Boyle said, continuing his general remonstrance against the sale of any city land.

Kenai became the third of three local government entities to approve a joint regulation proposal to the state Board of Fisheries to curb hydrocarbon pollution in the Kenai River.

Soldotna and the Kenai Peninsula Borough already approved the joint proposal.

The proposal asks the fish board to change fishing methods to limit motorized run time on the river, limit the number of motorized boats operating on the river at any one time, completely phase out two-stroke engines that are not direct fuel-injected and increase the use of electric motors and drift boats.

The regulation proposal is to be sent to the Board of Fisheries as a temporary place holder to be heard by the board at its regularly scheduled meeting next February.

Mayor Pat Porter thanked council member Joe Moore for his work in initiating the pollution cleanup action and for his work toward formulating the proposal regulation change.

In other business, the council:

· Introduced an ordinance appropriating an additional $75,000 for the new soccer park. The council previously approved a contract to complete two soccer fields and take two more up to a gravel surface. This would provide funding to complete all four fields;

· Approved a $669,048 contract for improving and paving Set Net, Angler and Aliak drives, McCollum Road and Japonski Avenue.

· Approved a new lease form governing leases of city property outside the airport reserve. Approval of a similar lease form for lands inside the reserve was postponed pending some administrative revisions.



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