Soldotna residents will have an opportunity to comment on proposed design concepts for the new Sterling Highway bridge over the Kenai River before the city council's next business meeting June 25.
During its meeting Wednesday, the council heard a presentation on design plans from Judy Dougherty, project manager for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and Dwayne Adams, president of Land Design North, the consulting firm drawing up ideas for the bridge design.
DOT has elected a two-span bridge option according to Dougherty, which will require removing and replacing the second pier of the existing bridge and removing the first and third piers. The bridge surface will have five traffic lanes with two lanes for pedestrians.
An alternative she described as a "clear span," would have cost $8 million more than the two-span bridge and would have taken longer to build.
Passing around artists' renderings of bridge design concepts, Adams told council members that both ends of the bridge would include gateway art elements and a bulb area in the middle of the bridge to allow pedestrians to stop and watch fishers and fishing guides on the river below.
One design concept, which Adams called "transportation oriented," would include a wave pattern in textured concrete representing the flowing waters of the river and would incorporate lights in the design.
Another concept would have an abstracted fish theme, the design consultant said, and might include an abstract fishing rod and a salmon.
"This would be a great opportunity for local metal fabricators," he said.
Yet another concept would place a fish's head coming up one side of the bridge and a tail going down the other.
The design firm is to make the art concepts available to the city for incorporation on Soldotna's Web site, allowing the public to view the ideas before commenting at the June 25 meeting.
Dougherty said DOT would like a decision on the preferred concept within a month so planners can go ahead with the project, which is scheduled for completion two years after a March 2004 planned construction start date.
During the city manager's portion of Wednesday's meeting, Tom Boedeker told the council Gov. Frank Murkowski has indicated budget vetoes on municipal assistance revenue sharing that would take approximately $138,000 from Soldotna's coffers.
However, Boedeker said the governor also would distribute $15 million in federal monies to municipalities in Alaska, which includes $81,408 to Soldotna.
Soldotna currently has projects in the works that involve matching funds from the state, according to Boedeker, and he offered some predictions as to which grants might or might not be on the governor's list of cuts.
"The governor has several weeks to consider vetoes on the capital budget," Boedeker said. "We may not know 'til the end of June which (line items) may be on the block."
On a positive note, Boedeker told council members that price quotes for the city's insurance premiums came in approximately $60,000 lower than expected.
Steve Bonebrake, city public works director, told the council that city crews are working to restripe the Binkley Street and Wilson Avenue intersection to improve its configuration and said crews are addressing some holes on Marydale Avenue.
In other business, the council unanimously approved items on its consent agenda including the renewal of a lease agreement with the Soldotna Little League and a transfer of a lease agreement with Redline Sports for the use of rental space at the Soldotna Sports Center from Morris Redford to Vince Redford.
The approved consent agenda also included temporarily reducing the city's building permit fees for residential construction by 10 percent.
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