Council accepts bid from company to install pipeThe first phase of a multi-year project aimed at eliminating sewer overflows received the go-ahead from the Astoria City Council Monday.

The council accepted a bid from Big River Excavating for the replacement of catch basins and the installation of more than 11,000 feet of pipe to collect storm water run-off in south Astoria from Lexington and Niagara avenues to Youngs Bay.

The city is under a federal order to make upgrades that will keep rainfall out of the sanitary sewer system and help stop the overflows that send millions of gallons into the Columbia River, Alderbrook Lagoon and Youngs Bay each year. City Engineer Mitch Mitchum said work will begin soon on the Youngs Bay project and should be completed by next spring. The entire city-wide project is expected to take more than 20 years to complete.

Big River's bid of $733,435 was the lowest of five submitted for the project, which was originally projected to cost $1.2 million. The project is being funded by a state loan repaid by surcharges on local sewer customers.

The project covers an area between Third and Lexington and 11th and Niagara on the top of the hill to Hanover and Olney to Eighth and Olney. Storm run-off that now enters the sanitary sewer system will be diverted into a new collection system that will empty it into Youngs Bay at two points.

In other business, the council:

• Learned that funding may be available to install a traffic signal sought for 33rd Street and Leif Erikson Drive in front of Safeway early next year.

Mitchum said Oregon Department of Transportation District Manager Mike Spaeth is pursuing a transportation loan to cover ODOT's portion of the project cost. The agency has agreed to cover $90,000 of the cost, with the city providing $50,000 and Safeway $60,000, but last month ODOT officials indicated that the money for their share might not be available until 2008.

Under the new plan, the city would enter an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT to cover the light's construction and the turnover of ownership and maintenance responsibilities to the state, Mitchum said. While that agreement and other paperwork is being processed, the city will try to get delivery of the large signal support poles, which normally require a long lead time, he said. If all goes as planned, the light could be installed and operating by summer 2005, he said.

• Presented an achievement award to city engineering technician Holli Pick for her work on the street paving project.

Pick reported that the project reached 73 percent of the streets targeted for paving before poor weather put an end to work for the winter. The paving will begin again next spring, under the existing contract, and should be finished by summer, she said. "We'll start where we left off."

• Welcomed the first six Astoria volunteer firefighters to complete the full training and certification program.

Astoria Fire Chief Lenard Hansen said the volunteers had to learn 19 disciplines from CPR to hazardous materials handling and demonstrate their skills before an evaluation committee.

Mayor pro tem Joyce Compere presented certificates to Brian Alsbury, Guy Davis, Ron Harrod, Justin Kuxhausen, Dean Petersen and Jacob Rummell.

Another 10 volunteers are still undergoing the training process. Hansen said the department hopes to build up a force of 40 volunteers.

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