South Tahoe moving forward with Harrison Avenue project |

South Tahoe moving forward with Harrison Avenue project

Tom Lotshaw

South Lake Tahoe City Council is committed to moving forward with the complete Harrison Avenue project, but stopped short of awarding a contract to Sierra Nevada Construction on Tuesday in order to arrange financing for the work.

Sierra Nevada Construction in Sparks was the low bidder, but its bid was 13 percent above the engineer’s estimate.

Construction costs are about $4.8 million with 5 percent contingency adding another $240,312. Inspection services and other costs push the total anticipated expenditures up to about $5.68 million.

With about $2.8 million in committed funding, city officials propose to finance $3 million over 15 years to cover a $1.67 million funding gap.

That amount also will pre-fund roughly $1 million that Harrison Avenue property owners agreed to pay for the improvements through an assessment district over 20 years.

Paperwork for the financing will be brought back for the City Council’s approval in March, potentially at a special meeting to keep things moving. Construction is set to start May 1.

With about $1.25 million in federal money helping to pay for the work, several council members voiced frustration with a provision that negates the city’s local-preference policies.

“For 20 percent they have this huge overriding stipulation that we can’t give benefit to locals. It’s frustrating that’s the rule,” councilwoman Brooke Laine said.

A representative from Sierra Nevada Construction told the City Council that some local workers will benefit from the work through its relationships with local trades unions, and that some construction materials will come from local businesses.

Harrison Avenue improvements have been discussed for more than 20 years and gone through several rounds of planning and design.

The project will completely rebuild Harrison and Riverside avenues as well as Modesto, San Francisco, Tallac, Alameda and San Jose avenues between Harrison and Riverside.

All of the roads are in poor condition, said Sarah Hussong-Johnson, deputy director of public works.

With the complete project, the roads will get sidewalks, lighting, parking and landscaping. A bike trail will run on Harrison from Los Angeles Avenue to Modesto and then along Modesto, Riverside and San Jose avenues back to Harrison.

A parking lot will be built off Modesto Avenue with upgraded boat trailer parking off San Jose Avenue and upgraded boat launch parking and landscaping at Merced and Harrison avenues.

Traffic flow changes also are in store for the area.

Harrison becomes a southbound one-way while Riverside becomes a northbound one-way. San Francisco and Alameda become eastbound one-ways and San Jose a westbound one-way. Modesto and Tallac will remain two-way streets.

The project also includes storm water drainage and treatment upgrades. They will give the city 1.3 percent of its first 10 percent pollutant load reduction required by 2016, Hussong-Johnson said.

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