BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

REGULAR MEETING

September 22, 2004

1:30 p.m.

Commissioners' Conference Room

APPROVED 11/3/04

 

Commissioner Bobby Green, Sr., presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Don Hampton, Anna Morrison and Don Hampton present.County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

16. PUBLIC WORKS

 

a. ORDER 04-9-22-5/In the Matter of Authorizing up to $530,000 in 2003 and 2004 Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) Funds for the Rehabilitation of the Lowell Covered Bridge and the Construction of an Interpretive Site.

 

Ollie Snowden, Public Works, reported that this project started out as a $1.075 million grant that Lane County and the Willamette National Forest received collectively from the Federal Highway Administration/Forest Highway money.He said they knew that wasnít going to be enough so they also applied and got a grant for $700,000 of federal highway money through ODOT, using surface transportation money.He noted they came back in 2002 for a request for another $500,000 and the Board granted that.He said they have an option that fits with the money they have.He commented there is value to the community in adding another $530,000 to the project.He noted this version is $530,000 short.He said if the Board was interested, he suggested allocating some of the 2003/2004 STIP money from ODOT.He indicated the project would include the full covered bridge rehab, the toilets and most of the interpretive exhibits, but it would only build about three-quarters of the footprint for the parking area and they would not have a paved parking area indicated in the master plan.

 

Morrison asked once this is completed, who would maintain the bridge in future years.

 

Snowden stated the Board agreed this would be a highway rest area.He said to the extent that the paving is related to the highway rest area, it would be an eligible road fund expense.He noted the toilets, the parking area and the paving for the parking area are road fund eligible but maintaining the bridge, the approach to the bridge and the interpretive signs are not road fund eligible.He said for that they wanted to enter into an agreement with Lowell to do at least short term maintenance and litter pick up so there is a way to keep the site in repair in the near future.

 

Morrison asked if it would be more cost effective to do the paving than it is to do the rocking and continued maintenance.

 

Snowden responded that is what they found on some of their higher volume gravel roads.He said it is cheaper in the long run to pave it than to continue to go out to re-grade.He didnít think they would get a lot of heavy traffic in the parking lot.He thought they could do a seal coat periodically to get more life out of this parking lot.

 

Greg Oslin, OBEC, stated he is the project manager.He said the County has a unique opportunity with the bridge to realize the vision of people into the future.He noted the site plan was derived from multiple meetings with large teams of people from Lane County, ODOT, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Highway Corp, the Covered Bridge Society and Oregon State Parks. He explained the bridge itself would have all new floor beams.He said that a new roof system and siding are required.He added they have windows that have been approved that are like the windows from the Goodpasture Covered Bridge.He noted the site improvement is good for 28 parking spots and three oversize motorhome spots. He said there would be five lighted interpretive signs inside the bridge.

 

Julie Pox, Willamette National Forest, gave the history on how this project got started.She said it is needed in the area and it has the potential to draw in lots of people.

 

Bill Cockrill, Covered Bridge Society, recalledthat in 1947 Lane County had 92 covered bridges and there are 19 left in the County.He said they see an emphasis on maintaining the covered bridges that they have.He thought having the interpretive center with the community of Lowell enhances the overall experience.He stated the Covered Bridge Society strongly supported the project.

 

Warren Weathers, Mayor of Lowell, said with regard to the maintenance, they have volunteers in Lowell that pick up trash.He added they have been working with Oregon State Parks and they have an interest in incorporating this into the other parks they manage in the area. He said the City of Lowell wanted to contribute $1,000 towards the project.He asked the Board to use the unexpended balance from the cancelled Ridgeway Road project.He noted the parking area at the Lowell Bridge has become a primary fishing spot on the lake for people fishing from the bank.He said the Lowell Bridge project would give all users a safe place to park.He added it is a visible County landmark and it is important to Lane Countyís economy and culture.He said the project was also important as an opportunity to improve highway safety by leveraging grants from the Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration and taking advantage of financial efficiencies.

 

Van Vactor asked what the project would be without the additional $530,000.

 

Snowden responded that is shown in Figure 8.He said it is the full covered bridge rehabilitation, most of the interpretive exhibits, the toilets and 75% of the parking area, but no paved parking.

 

MOTION:to approve Alternative 2 of ORDER 04-9-22-5.

 

Hampton MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.

 

Dwyer asked what project goes away if they approve this.

 

Snowden noted the Board offered to loan the City of Eugene $350,000 to finish the gap and they didnít want the money. He said if they take the STP pass through and use it as a federal aid project, they get another six percent that they wouldnít have received.He noted that would be about $380,000 of $500,000.He indicated if the bids come in higher, the first recourse would be to go back to the federal highway administration and ODOT to try to get more money from those federal sources.

 

Morrison was concerned that they would be asked for money and the overall long-term maintenance picture will be Lane Countyís responsibility.She said if they donít have road fund money she wasnít sure what would happen.

 

Snowden hoped that the City of Lowell would be able to do the routine maintenance.He thought for long term they would need to look for some type of partnership so they could begin to build up money over the next 30 years to do painting.

 

Sorenson commented that covered bridges are a significant resource in western Oregon and it was worth putting the money into preserving covered bridges.

 

Dwyer thought they should have windows on the bridge so people could fish off the bridge in bad weather.He was in favor of the motion but he said if this goes over budget that they would have to scale it down.

 

Hampton commented that once someone leaves Eugene, there is no place to stop for tourist information until the Middlefork Ranger Station.He thought of this as a place to stop to see what else is available in the area and possibly spend money.He commented the community wants them to spend the money on the project.

 

Dwyer asked who would pay for a signal at the location once the traffic warrants it.

 

Snowden responded that ODOT has an agreement with AOC on cost sharing for traffic control at intersections for counties over 25,000.He said that ODOT would expect the County to pay a portion of a signal that went into that location.

 

Green supported it.He echoed Dwyerís comments that they live within the means of the money they have for this project.He said if it comes in over bid, to figure out what they could live without.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

b. ORAL PRESENTATION/Status Report on OTIA III Funds.

 

Jeff Scheick, ODOT, reported this was the draft OTIA III recommendation package that ODOT has put together for the Oregon Transportation Commission.He said the OTC received this presentation at their August meeting and have not taken any action for the $500 million modernization dollars.He explained this was the legislatively approved package that was done in the 2003 session.He noted they approved $2.5 billion total of increased transportation funding for projects of which $1.3 billion went for state bridges, $300 million for local bridges, $500 million for state highway modernization opportunities and the balance for city and county road maintenance opportunities.

 

Scheick indicated there is $100 million set aside for freight and job creation development opportunities, $100 million for modernization equity (splitting among the five regions of ODOT based on a detailed formula).He explained that Region 2ís share was $29 million.He said there is $100 million set aside for projects of statewide significance.He said these were eight projects that required special attention to get to completion.He noted that $200 million was set aside for ODOTís federal earmarks.He said that the OTC had requested the Oregon Congressional Delegates review projects that are priority and ask them for consideration.He noted that ODOT was recommending that the Tier One projects go forward for funding.

 

Sorenson asked what the status was with the West Eugene Parkway.

 

Scheick responded the $1 million was out of the STIP money.He added at the same time they were doing the OTIA III modernization list; they were doing the 06/09 STIP recommendations to the OTC.He noted the $1 million was set aside for wetlands mitigation purposes as part of the West Eugene Parkway.

 

Sorenson asked what the steps would be for ODOT to construct the West Eugene Parkway.

 

Scheick noted they are in the environmental document phase of trying to get to a final record of decision that is a federal highway decision point of acceptance of the environmental process.He said the completion should take place next year.

 

Dwyer asked if any community had been deprived of revenue because their projects werenít ready to go.

 

Scheick indicated that the commission had given clear direction that they want to see projects ready to go and built within the timelines allotted for that package.He said if a record of decision and right of way could be done within the times of the package requirements that would qualify as one of the criteria for which the project could be recommended in an OTIA package.He noted within their STIP they have more flexibility because part of the modernization dollars are set aside that could go into a development STIP to make money available to buy right-of-way, to finish an environmental process or engineering work.He noted there is a process for the Beltline they are putting in to study the analysis and engineering work.He noted in the 2003 legislative session there was a bill encouraging the department to look at opportunities for getting private stakeholders or other agencies to help build projects.He said $20 million is set aside for seed money and if someone wants to build a project and there is capital, the $20 million would be made available for that possibility.He said they are starting a solicitation process to look for public private partnerships this fall.

 

Dwyer asked if the City of Coburg would qualify for the match money.

 

Snowden noted they advanced the project but he hadnít seen any indication from the congressional delegation that I-5 Coburg was on the list of federal earmarked projects.He explained that earmarked projects only provide 80% of the money.He said ODOT was trying to take this money and provide the 20% local match of projects that made the federal earmark list.

 

Dwyer said someone needed to prepare that as part of the package at the United Front, utilizing different revenues.

 

Scheick explained the $20 million set aside for public private partnership would not be used unless there was a private partnership with a contribution.

 

Scheick noted that $200 million was for advanced construction in conjunction with federal earmarked projects that the OTC has endorsed.He said the I-5 Beltline project is in this category, with the understanding that $15 million is earmarked and they are showing mod equity of $7.8 million and $13 million for advanced construction money.He said with the OTIA III package, including the federal earmark, they are looking at a $35 million increased investment in the 04/07 STIP.He said the department recognizes Lane Countyís priority and they are trying to move the project forward.

 

Snowden indicated they tried to advance I-5 Coburg for the freight mobility project but it didnít make the cut.

 

Scheick said the Freight Advisory Committee prioritized a statewide list into three tiers and the project Snowden noted was in there, but it was not in the first tier.He passed out handouts that discussed the modernization funds breakdown. (Copy in file).He noted for Region 2, they got 32% of the $500 million for projects.He said their recommendation for the OTC is to approve this, putting it into the 06/09 draft STIP.He said it would be approved next year.

 

18. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

None.

 

19. CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD

 

None.

 

20. OTHER BUSINESS

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Green adjourned the meeting at 2:50 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary