Durango's most anticipated, or dreaded, public project will move past the point of no return when the city issues $17.5 million in bonds today to pay for the reconstruction of Florida Road.
The City Council approved an ordinance authorizing the bond issuance at its regular meeting Tuesday night.
Finance Director Julie Brown said the bonds will be insured and repaid at an interest rate of 4.42 percent. The rate ensures that repayment will not exceed the $30 million cap approved by voters in November, and Brown estimates the total will be closer to $26 million with 20 annual payments of about $1.3 million.
The bonds will be repaid with proceeds from the 2005 voter-approved Referendum 2A, a sales-tax increase for capital improvements. City Manager Ron LeBlanc said the 2A money is expected to adequately fund the bonds, but proceeds from the city's major-street impact fees are available as a backup.
"We don't anticipate tapping into those fees. Sales tax would have to get really bad first," LeBlanc said.
Public Works Director Jack Rogers said he will have a list of qualified design-and-build firms by April 9 and will select the general contractor by June.
Preliminary work will begin this fall, including the relocation of utilities and construction of storm drains.
The installation of a traffic signal at East Animas Road and Florida Road will be completed this summer, but the signal is not part of the larger project.
Primary construction will begin in spring 2010.
Rogers said Goff Engineering has already begun survey work on the corridor in preparation for the utility work, as evidenced by rows of survey flags and spray-painted fixtures along Florida Road.
Also at Tuesday's meeting:
•Councilors unanimously approved the Stonebridge annexation to allow TGWP LLC to build nine residential units and 1,770 square feet of commercial space on East Animas Road between Florida Road and County Road 251. The project had been in the planning process since 2005 and survived several ownership changes.
Councilors gave the developers a rare pass on issues of affordable-housing and sustainable-building practices that are usually a condition of approval for all projects before the current council.
Councilor Michael Rendon acknowledged that those issues weren't at the forefront when the project first entered the planning process.
"This area's prime for this sort of thing, and it's a classic example of infill development," Rendon said.
•Travis Parker, an operations sergeant with the Colorado Army National Guard 947th Engineer Company in Durango, offered the services of his men and women to the city as a mutually beneficial partnership.
The National Guard personnel, who specialize in horizontal construction and road building, would receive training, and the city would receive low-cost or free labor for street projects.
"We just want to re-emphasize that we're here," Parker said, explaining that the company's Bodo Park home precludes the public from seeing the guard members on a regular basis.
LeBlanc said he met with Parker to discuss possible projects and will have more information for the council later this month.