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Monday, Sep 09 2013 05:35 PM

City council to weigh $3.5 million for dogs, cats and roads

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    By Casey Christie/ The Californian

    A worker with Security Paving drives past a Mohawk Street exit along a section of the Westside Parkway in this file photo.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

The Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday will consider a $3 million roadwork contract connecting Mohawk Street to Hageman Road, and a resolution letting the city swiftly buy what it needs to take over operating an animal shelter from Kern County.

City staff is recommending the council award a slightly more than $3 million contract to Granite Construction to expand Mohawk Street from two to six lanes at Rosedale Highway in northwest Bakersfield, and send it north over the Calloway Canal to Siena Avenue.

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The Bakersfield City Council meets at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to take public statements, before going into closed session. Its regular meeting continues at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall council chambers, 1501 Truxtun Ave.

Two existing stubs of Mohawk Street currently dead-end north of Rosedale Highway and south of Hageman Road. By connecting the two existing portions, northwest motorists will get another way to out-maneuver gridlock.

"That's a real integral part of the transportation plan, and something that needs to be done," said Vice Mayor Ken Weir, whose Ward 3 council area includes the area. "I'm sure it will be a great benefit to residents in the Rosedale area."

The extension, which will feature a concrete bridge over Calloway Canal, will decrease to four lanes of traffic near the canal, and to two lanes of traffic where it joins the existing Calloway Canal Access Road and the northern end of Mohawk Street.

City staff recommends the council appropriate $1 million in state grant funds and $1.5 in transportation development funds to pay for the project. The rest would come from other sources.

If approved, construction could begin as soon as November. In fiscal year 2014-2015, the city intends to improve the portion of Mohawk Street extending south from Hageman Road.

The council is also expected to consider a resolution doing away with competitive bidding procedures, to let the city quickly pay for the computers, software and site improvements it will need to assume operation of Kern Animal Shelter on South Mount Vernon Avenue when the county vacates, possibly as soon as Sept. 30.

Money spent will come from $500,000 in the city's capital outlay fund.

"We are subject to the timeline that is set by the county's departure from the facility," said Steve Teglia, assistant to City Manager Alan Tandy. "To date they have not communicated a specific date for them to transition out of there."

The council also is expected to adopt an ordinance rezoning 77 acres of county land at the southeast corner of Seventh Standard Road and Calloway Drive from agricultural to residential, a step toward its eventual annexation.

Developer Matt Wade of Kern Land Partners LLC told The Californian last month that he wants to see "at least 250" single-family houses built on the land.

But resident Elaine Fleeman said she's concerned that an oil well could be drilled on the property and that a new method of oil extraction -- acidization, the use of hydrofluoric acid to tap into petroleum-bearing rock -- could pollute groundwater.

Planning Director Jim Eggert said a drilling permit would be issued by the state Department of Conservation, and that if Wade doesn't own mineral rights to the land, he may have to set aside 2.5 acres of it as a "drilling island" for whoever does.

A Department of Conservation spokesman said no wells were proposed for the Seventh Standard Road-Calloway Drive intersection, and his agency would not issue a drilling permit unless the land were zoned for oil production by the county.

Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt said the land is zoned for agricultural use, but that unrestricted oil drilling is permitted on county agricultural land.

Neither Wade nor his representative, consultant Roger McIntosh, responded to requests for comment Monday.

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