Complaining all the way to the moment they voted, the Lincoln City City Council Monday night begrudgingly approved a deal with ODOT in order to proceed with the first phase of the so-called Nelscott Gap between 19th and 35th. The two lane Highway 101 bottleneck, made worse during tourist traffic jams in late spring and all through the summer, is scheduled for a substantial widening, bike path and new sidewalks along with a signal light at 32nd.
The ticket to the dance for Lincoln City was a take-it-or-leave-it contract with ODOT for the cost of moving some of the utilities out of ODOT’s right of way so they can get on with the project. The city had earlier estimated the utility move to be quite expensive. ODOT told the city it would be less than that. And when a number of $532,000 came up, the city agreed since it was quite a bit less what they anticipated paying. But then came the kicker. ODOT said $532,000 was not a solid estimate. And the city had to pay whatever the price turned out to be.
David Hawker told his council that he felt trapped in the deal because ODOT threatened to dump the entire project if the city didn’t agree to it. Hawker said it was extremely frustrating to be dealt such a hand after well over a decade of planning for the wider road. Yet, he admitted, ODOT did finally agree to a new signal light at 32nd. And that’s worth a lot of money. Hawker said if the cost to the city for utility relocation comes in at a reasonable cost, that will be a good thing. He said ODOT agreed to taking a $100,000 up front payment with a three month window to come up with the rest of the bill, whatever it turns out to be.
The council grumbled politely, held their collective noses, and then voted “OK,” with the proviso that the city would advance the project $100,000 and pay the rest as the bills comes in.
Hawker said the bid goes out February 27th, with a bid award February 29th.
The city had earlier budgeted around $700,000 for other utility relocations that are the sole responsibility of the city.
The full length three-lane project runs from 19th to 35th. It will sport pedestrian paths and a bike lane along with a signal light at 32nd and more business parking on the west side of the highway north of 32nd. They begin the work ASAP.