Council OKS Nelson Lane Bridge repairs

Construction to begin this summer
By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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In Tuesday’s three-plus-hour meeting, Lincoln City Council spent the majority of time on hiring an economic development contractor, repairing Nelson Lane Bridge and changing municipal code to accommodate persons with disabilities.

Nearly one-third of the council’s discussions centered around what was expected to be a quick approval authorizing the city manager to hire a company to handle economic development services. The position, which Mayor Stan Nader termed “critical,” has been vacant for two years due to lack of funds.

From the four qualifying bids received by the city manager’s office, Municipal Resource Group, LLC was chosen as the best qualified for the job. The contractor would assist the city’s economic development committee with attracting new businesses, business retention and business outreach — helping prospective businesses know what’s attractive about locating in Lincoln.

Instead of approving the city manager’s choice, Councilman Peter Gilbert asked the council to remove the item from the consent agenda. Gilbert “felt uncomfortable” because he “hadn’t had time” to review the four bids for the job and wanted the “lower-priced bidder” to be considered. Historically, the bid review has been the function of the city manager’s office and City Council’s approval is a formality.

In a 3 to 2 vote, the council directed city staff to revisit the entire selection process and present their findings at a later City Council meeting. Dissenting votes came from Councilmen Paul Joiner and Spencer Short.

Short expressed concerns about the “lower-priced bidder” having political connections with other council members — a relationship that could be described as “cronyism.”

“I have serious concerns about the actions of the council last night,” Short said Wednesday. “They didn’t trust city staff, they didn’t ask questions about the qualifications of the chosen consultant and some council members supported the selection of a political appointee who lacks proper qualifications for the job.”


Nelson Lane Bridge residents “tired” of road noise

In a fancy bit of theater, Nelson Lane resident Bruce Anderson began his address to the City Council by heaving a tire retread with the girth of a mid-size table onto the speaker’s platform. The retread, termed an “alligator” by truckers, weighed about 20 pounds and had dislodged from the tire of an 18-wheel big rig, landing on his property, Anderson told the council.

“We’re really feeling dumped on,” Anderson said. “I was trying to show some tangible proof that we really have problems out there (on Nelson Lane). Since the bypass opened, the traffic increased instantly. It was like throwing a switch on and we see a lot of big trucks.”

Anderson asked the council to review sound studies done for the Nelson Lane Bridge and road renovation.

“When the trucks go by, they rattle our house,” Anderson said.

The project’s original sound study estimated 600 trucks per day with a future projected increase to 1,500 trucks per day. The rural connector road links Lincoln and Roseville.

Anderson said he was told by the city that original sound studies for the project showed a one decibel noise factor.

At the council meeting, Paul Bollard of Bollard Acoustical, who did the sound study for the bridge and road project, said the noise factor “was more like 10 decibels.”

The council voted to adopt the final “Mitigated Negative Declaration” for the project, a mitigation and monitoring plan for the Nelson Lane Bridge and roadway widening.

“Mitigated Negative Declaration” refers to the impacts on the environment during construction of the bridge and road and includes only those impacts caused by the project, such as wetlands and wildlife preserves.

An impact might include considering the time of construction so that it doesn’t interfere with wildlife breeding, said Mark Miller, the city of Lincoln’s director of public services.

The project involves replacement of the 73-year-old bridge and rebuilding the road to make them safer.

Project funds came from state and local partnership grant monies passed through CalTrans, Miller said.

Repairs are slated to begin this summer and are projected to take about two construction seasons, with the project ending in the fall of 2014. The total cost will be $6,566,097 according to a report prepared for the city of Lincoln.


Council approves change to city code for disabled persons

The council unanimously approved a change to city ordinance 879B pertaining to reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

Currently, city practice has involved an informal review of a request for accommodation. City Council’s approval will adopt the ordinance in title only.

According to federal and state fair-housing laws involving persons with disabilities, cities are required to show flexibility in the application of land use, zoning and building applications, practices and procedures. Local jurisdictions are required to waive certain requirements, when necessary, to eliminate barriers to housing opportunities.

For example, a resident with a disabled child might request a waiver of a residential fence height restriction to make the yard safer. Or individuals might request relief from set-back restrictions to accommodate a wheelchair ramp on their property.