Blair mayor vetoes approval of bid to pave county road

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A county road that runs adjacent to a new subdivision in southern Blair will remain unpaved after Mayor Rich Hansen vetoed the approval of a bid for asphalt Tuesday during the city council's regular meeting at the Blair Public Library and Technology Center.

The city council voted 6-2 to approve a bid of $165,728 from Western Engineering to pave a portion of County Road 31, which will lead to the Southern Hills subdivision. Council members Chris Jensen and Marty Shepard voted no.

Hansen immediately invoked his right to veto the vote.

“This is a road to nowhere,” Hansen said. “This is a road that connects to a minimum maintenance road belonging to the county. It also connects to Hollow Road, which is in dire need of repair.”

Hansen said he thought the money could be used elsewhere, including for improvements to Hollow Road. The paving of CR 31, he said, would only benefit the developer.

“I wish Mr. Eriksen every success in this matter. But if John sells 20-30 lots on there, that's another 60 cars a day that are going to have to cross Highway 30 at the crest of the steepest grade in the state of Nebraska,” Hansen said. “It's a dangerous situation for people to cross that highway any time of the day.”

Council members Frank Wolff and Jon Stewart, both who serve on the transportation committee that reviewed the bids, disagreed with Hansen.

Wolff said the council has repeatedly looked at Hollow Road. However, the city doesn't have the funds available to repair it.

“We do not have the millions of dollars its going to take to do Hollow Road. We're going to have to wait four or five years, where we could come up with some money to take care of it,” Wolff said. “We've got to go forward and do this development now and we'll work on 31 and Hollow Road at a later date.”
“I think this road next to that development is an advantage to the city of Blair,” Stewart added. “And the cost right now? You're not going to do any better improving that road.”

Wolff made a motion, which was seconded by Stewart, to override the mayor's veto. Six votes were needed. However, the vote was 5-3, with Jensen, Shepard and Kevin Hall voting against it.

Prior to the vote on the bids, resident Donna Henton questioned who would pay for the road. Henton, who lives 13092 U.S. Highway 30, said she was assessed a portion of the cost of paving County Road 26 when the neighboring Southern Ridge subdivision was developed.

“Who is going to pay for it on this county road?” she asked.

Jensen voiced his opinion on who should pay for the road.

“I truly think that this part of this should be on the developer not the taxpayers in town,” he said.

Hansen cited an ordinance, approved by the council and signed by the mayor Jan. 12, which created a paving district, including CR 31. The ordinance did not state who would be responsible for the paying the cost of paving the road.

City Administrator Rod Storm has previously told the council that the decision to assess the cost to asphalt CR 31 could be made at a later time.

The city received three bids for the CR 31 paving project. The bid from Western Engineering was more than $35,000 under the engineer's estimate.

The council did approve several other contracts and bids for work related to the new Southern Hills subdivision. Those items approved included:

• a construction staking contract with JEO Engineering with a fee of $25,800.

• an engineering agreement amendment with JEO Engineering for $6,260.

• a material testing contract with Olsson for $19,315.

• a bid for utilities from Bluffs Paving and Utility Company, Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the amount of $1.09 million.

• a bid for paving from Steve Harris Construction, Homer, in the amount of $574,486.

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