Saturday, May 20

County calls special meeting to discuss Fifth Street    Send a link to a friend

[MAY 20, 2006]  LINCOLN -- Logan County Board members met in a specially called meeting to discuss the Fifth Street Road Project. Road and Bridge chairman Terry Werth said that the committee was recommending to the board to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Lincoln to renovate Fifth Street.

Road and Bridge chairman Terry Werth brought forth a committee recommendation for the county to move forth on plans to renovate Fifth Street. The project is a joint venture between the city of Lincoln and Logan county.

Logan County Board members met in a specially called meeting to discuss the Fifth Street Road Project. Road and Bridge chairman Terry Werth said that the committee was recommending to the board to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Lincoln to renovate Fifth Street.

The city has already signed their agreement.

Werth said that the discussion delay was because of problems that the committee had had with some of the contract language in three areas. First where it said that contract letting would take place “if and when the city has funding in place.” Another was where it said that the county was to agree to reimburse direct to the city the funds allotted to the county through the Federal Transportation Program. And lastly, if the project was not started within five-years, reimbursement of costs to the city.

The floor was opened to discussion and board members questioned the division of costs, a federal grant and what if the project construction could not go forward after the initial planning was completed

When the project was first looked at and planned for in the mid-nineties the county was responsible for most of the roadway. Through annexations into city limits there now remains only about a quarter-of-a- mile of the section between Lincoln Parkway and I-55 that is under county jurisdiction. So the city is now the lead agency and responsible for 80% of that section and the project costs.

It was the 2001 trip that county engineer Tom Hickman, county board member Dick Logan and Mayor Beth Davis took to see legislators Peter Fitzgerald, Dick Durbin and Ray LaHood that resulted in the federal grant with matching state funds. Those funds are now available and can be used to update and resume the planning stages of the project. The $762,000 grant is set to split 75% to the county and 25% to the city, even though there was an implied agreement, Mayor Beth Davis said, that if funds came through they would be split 50/50.

However, that point is moot since the county is committing to use all of their portion toward that section.

The road renovation is ultimately planned to extend all the way to Middletown. The section being discussed would go to I-55 and would be more urban. It is set to be three lanes.

There is some relief from deciding the matter right now in that the initial deadline by the end of May is no longer in effect. Those funds are now available anytime in fiscal year 2007, Aukamp said.

Logan pointed out that it would be best not to hold off in case the state should run out of funds. He felt that we should move now to claim that.

County finance chairman Chuck Ruben wished to clarify the initial planning costs that are being agreed to before any construction contracts would be let out.

Professional Engineering plans for phase one would be updating information and would cost about $290,000, Aukamp said.

Phase two would add details of right of ways needed, pavement structure, curbs and gutters and other more specific construction details.

Phase one and two together would cost an estimated $350,000. The grant would cover this cost.

The total construction is estimated at $5 million dollars. The county is responsible for an estimated $1.75 million. They have been saving motor fuel tax (MFT) for the project since it was first talked about in the nineties. The county has accumulated $4 million in their Motor Fuel Tax Fund, Dick Logan said, more than enough to cover their portion of the project.

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John Stewart asked if the city has its share?

Mayor Beth Davis said, “We did until the Sysco deal.”

She added that the city has a policy not to pledge funds beyond any current administration, which is now three more years.

She added that at a joint meeting between the city’s finance, policy and procedures and the streets and alleys committees everyone agreed and is committed to the project. They want to see this happen.

Alderman Buzz Busby said that, naturally, they hope to go out for state or federal grant funds. But in the event that they don’t get anything he’s checked and they could borrow it. The loan could be made based on the amount of funds coming into the city and expenses going out. The loan is on 8.5% assessed valuation, and we’re a long way from being over that right now, he said.

Board member Vicki Hasprey asked what the county could be out if they went forward with the project, but it did not get completed?

In short, county engineer Bret Aukamp said that the county would not have any money out-of-pocket invested in the planning stages. Professional engineering stages 1 and 2 are roughly estimated at $356,000. The county’s portion of the federal funds would cover it.

At that point, according to the contract, the city would need to have the funds available to proceed or the contracts for construction would not be let out. The grant funding would be all that the county could lose.

Dick Logan asked board members to stop and think about the number of businesses that are out that section of road right now from the stoplight going west. There are 17 paying county taxes. That does not include:

  • Sysco, which is not in operation yet

  • CIEDC, tax exempt

  • Elk’s Club

  • Park Meadows Church

  • Possible access to a new hospital location

  • New Baptist Church not built yet

And, he asked that board members to consider all the residents that use that road daily.

Board member John Stewart said that if it were Tuesday night he would be voting for it. He summed up his reasons saying:

  • This is not going to be taking any money out of the county pocket

  • The federal grant money to do this was gone for by city and county representatives

  • The road would create access for potential developments, such as Doug Muck’s industrial park and others

  • The road is getting worse and needs updating

  • The grant money should be used on this section of the road because the county would have to do a study for their portion of this section anyway

Use the grant money because that is what the money is for.

Representatives from the city of Lincoln in attendance at last night’s meeting included Mayor Beth Davis, aldermen Marty Neitzel and Buzz Busby and city engineer Mark Mathon.

A straw vote indicated that the county would pass the agreement at next Tuesday’s special evening. It is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Logan County Courthouse.

[Jan Youngquist]

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