Councilman Steve Knutson has called time out on the state’s plan to relinquish a portion of Highway 370 to the City of Bellevue, thereby making that portion a city street.
Council members voted 6-0 April 14 to grant Knutson’s request for an indefinite amount of time to study why a key part of the agreement with the state was revised.
The original agreement called on the state to resurface Highway 370 approximately from 25th Street east to the Bellevue Bridge before transferring the four-mile stretch to city ownership. The project would include repairs to the bridge over Fort Crook Road heading into east Bellevue.
The relinquishment is necessary because the planned opening of the Highway 34 bridge this fall will add to the number of highway miles managed by the state. Since the state currently is refusing to manage more miles, a reduction had to be found.
The cost of the work is estimated at $2.5 million to be fully covered by the state.
A proposed amendment to the agreement would see the city do the work and then receive a $2,543,000 payment from the state within 30 days of the project’s completion.
Knutson said he doesn’t understand why the city is taking upon itself the responsibility of organizing and directing the work when the state was willing to carry that burden.
“I just feel they should do the work and make everything right, rather than just giving us a set dollar amount” he said. “We will have to make up the designs and do the bidding. I don’t know why it’s getting done this way.”
Knutson said he has unresolved concerns about the bridge that also must be answered.
“I know we’ve had to do some work on the supports, and I want to make sure that’s checked out real well before we accept anything that gives us the responsibility,” he said.
City Administrator Dan Berlowitz said the city does not necessarily plan to manage the project itself, but would like the option to be available in case the city can get the work done less expensively.
“It’s not really to have it totally one way or the other, but to have the option,” he said.
He said doing the work through the state can trigger burdensome federal requirements.
“If we do it locally, we’re maybe able to get better prices and get more accomplished,” he said.
Additionally, he said, the city would like to have closer control over the repaving of Mission Avenue.
City offices will depart Olde Towne within the next several years, and Berlowitz said officials fear the rebuilding of that block, in addition to new forms of parking, might require tearing out the newly laid surfacing.
“That would be money gone to waste,” he said.