AGREEMENT DISCUSSED 11-1-16 LMS
Representatives from the city, county and those interested in developing an Interagency Joint Agreement between the two entities met Tuesday, November 1, and continued to discuss details related to a vehicular emergency access bridge across the Salmon River.
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has indicated an interest in assisting in the project since a second bridge would be of great benefit to the department when the time comes to replace the Main Street Bridge however; by law the department is only allowed to provide financial funding for state highways. The department has made it clear that before any moves are made towards other forms of assistance to the second bridge project the city and the county must commit to a joint powers agreement and become partners in the project.
Questions were raised at the October 26 meeting of the Salmon City Council and the November 1 meeting was called to address those questions as well as other aspects of the potential plan.
Engineer Stephen Freiberger of Paragon Consulting Inc. said that step one of the step by step process would be planning, informing the public as to the proposed logistics and obtaining public input on potential locations for the bridge. Step two would be the search for funding. He said the first two steps would open the way to research project feasibility and would not be a commitment to the whole project. He said that any one of the entities involved may quit at any time.
At the October 26 meeting Freiberger identified several steps stretching far into the future. On November 1 he asked if all steps beyond the first two should be removed for the time being since federal funding agencies give priority to critical-need projects presented in multiple phases.
City Councilman Ken Hill thought the council would want to know details of all phases before any commitment is made.
Lemhi County Commissioner John Jakovac said a decision on whether the project is wanted or not needs to be made. County Road and Bridge Road Specialist Jay Davis said both the county and the city see there is a need for a second bridge and that Freiberger, the Road and Bridge Department and City Community Development Coordinator Mary Cerise have all done a great deal of work on the project. He said from here the project either goes forward or not.
The fiscal responsibility being proposed is that the county would pay 70 percent of the project and the city would pay 30 percent. Other funding partners gathered along the way might change the initial percentages. A matter of double taxation was raised at the October 26 council meeting by Council President Jim Baker. He stated that city residents already pay county taxes and therefore would be paying twice for the new bridge. Tuesday, Freiberger countered that statement with research that shows the county has never assessed residents a tax for roads. He said the money for road maintenance comes from the Road and Bridge Department budget which receives monies from various sources including registrations and highway distribution system collections which are disbursed based on a formula of road mileage within the county. Road and Bridge also receives substantial funding from the Secure Rural Schools Act legislation.
Freiberger will send a letter to the city documenting the fact the county does not have a tax levy for roads.
Part of the bridge plan includes appointment of a steering committee which would be tasked with researching the many questions being asked such as funding for road improvements to streets providing access to the new bridge. One of the challenges will be where to locate the bridge since the area now being considered is in a flood plain containing wet lands. In addition, it would be a new bridge not a replacement and the bridge would cross the Salmon River which contains a listed Endangered Species. Cerise said getting through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process will be a major expense and will ultimately decide the bridge’s location.
Wade Allen of the Idaho Transportation Department’s District 6 office drove from Rigby to attend the meeting. He contributed much valuable information and said the ITD wants to see the emergency access bridge project happen and wants to help figure out a way to obtain funding for the project. He said the department can’t say at this point exactly what the level of participation in the project will be. The ITD will formulate a three way city/county/ITD agreement after a joint agreement between the county and city is in place.
Before the city/county agreement proceeds a legal opinion on what is being proposed will be requested and presented to City Attorney Fred Snook in time for the November 16 council meeting.
In addition to Freiberger and Allen those present at the meeting from the city were: Mayor Leo Marshall, Councilman Hill, Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt, City Clerk Mary Benton, Community Development Coordinator Cerise and City Financial Director Amy Fealko. County representatives included Commissioner Jakovac, Commissioner Ken Miner, Commissioner Rick Snyder, County Road and Bridge Supervisor Kerri Cheney, R&B Road Specialist Davis and Janet Nelson from Lemhi County Emergency Services.
AGREEMENT DISCUSSED 11-1-16 LMS