Keystone Drive paving, bus purchases on assembly agenda

Posted: Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A $2 million federal grant has been earmarked for improvements to three dirt miles of Keystone Drive east of Soldotna.

An ordinance to accept that funding is set for introduction at today's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.

If Ordinance 2005-19-01 is approved and the federal grant accepted, the $2 million would be added to nearly $1 million already in hand for the reconstruction project.

A borough is expected to issue a request for proposals seeking bids from consultants for the preparatory scoping phase of the project, which would determine its size, noting such things as the need for pedestrian pathways, as well for conducting an environmental review to evaluate drainage and wetland concerns, according to Road Director Gary Davis.

"We don't know (at this point) whether the project will cost $3 million or $6 million," Davis said.

It might be midsummer before a selected consultant actually begins work, but Davis said that work would produce a much better estimate of the final cost of rebuilding the road paralleling the Kenai River. That estimate should be available by late fall.

Construction could begin by the summer of 2006, he said.

Earlier this year, the borough assembly accepted the first $909,700 in federal funds for the Keystone project, which were funneled through the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, adding to it another $90,300 in matching local funds. The $2 million grant would not require additional matching dollars, Davis said.

The Keystone Drive grant ordinance currently is scheduled for public hearing July 12.

The assembly also is expected to introduce Ordinance 2005-19-02, which would accept a grant of almost $1.46 million from the Federal Transit Administration that would allow the purchase of between 15 and 22 small passenger buses for use during the 2006 Arctic Winter Games. Each bus would carry about 20 passengers and be used primarily to transport athletes to and from lodging and competition venues.

At the end of the Games, the buses would be given to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The district recently eliminated several 15-passenger vans due to safety concerns.

The federal grant, secured by Alaska's congressional delegation in the 2004 U.S. Department of Transportation budget, will require a local match of $298,281, which would be approved through the same ordinance. That ordinance also has a scheduled public hearing July 12.

A third ordinance up for introduction would accept another fairly large federal grant totaling $992,000 to meet housing needs for the 2006 Games. The grant would come through the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Ordinance 2005-19-05, which gets a hearing July 12, would be used to cover the cost of sleeping accommodations for participants, food services, medical supplies and services and equipment for athletic venues, according to borough grants manager Bonnie Golden.

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