The City of Lawton is moving closer to a project that will give pedestrians a safer route across Interstate 44.
City Council will vote today on whether to amend a 2022 agreement between the City of Lawton and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that specifies the details of a joint project to build a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the vehicular bridge on East Gore Boulevard that spans Interstate 44. City officials have said the project is a safety issue, providing safe passage as an alternate for those who now must use a narrow shoulder alongside high-speed vehicles to walk or bike across the bridge while discouraging people who try to walk across the interstate below the bridge.
The original agreement was based on an estimated project cost of $1.87 million, with ODOT providing $1,010,334 and the City of Lawton, $860,654. But when ODOT bid the project in November, the apparent low bid was $2,558,909.10, meaning allocated funding was not enough. ODOT has granted an additional $550,600 for the project, bringing its total contribution to $1,560,934. That means the City of Lawton must increase its share by $137,321, bringing its total contribution to $997,975.
The city is funding its share from the 2019 Capital Improvements Program. As a second agreement modification, Lawton agrees to maintain and inspect the pedestrian bridge on a regular basis.
ODOT has not indicated when work would begin on the project, which is expected to take 180 days to complete.
Award contract for water wells to be drilled
In another infrastructure-related project, the council will act on a recommendation from city staff to award a $9,223,500 contract that will allow its quest for new raw water sources to continue.
The project to be awarded to Associated Environmental Industries Corp. focuses on work to drill new wells into the Arbuckle-Timbered Hills aquifer that lays under much of Comanche County, as part of a plan to provide a backup water supply during drought. The goal is providing a minimum of 5 million gallons of water a day (mgd) to supplement water now provided by lakes Lawtonka, Ellsworth and Waurika.
Associated Environmental Industries will be tasked with drilling up to six test well sites, searching for a well that will provide enough water to supplement the 1.2 mgd of raw water already being provided by a well drilled in southeast Lawton. Public Utilities Director Rusty Whisenhunt said that should one of the test wells indicate it is a suitable site, the project will focus on drilling that site into an operable well.
Boathouses as short-term rentals
Council members also will consider a recommendation from city staff that would allow boathouse tenants at Lake Lawtonka to use their property as short-term rentals, but add a $500 fee for that designation.
City staff members say some tenants at Lake Lawtona are using their boathouses as short-term rentals, something they did under their previous lease agreement. The recommendation is to allow that to continue, but require such tenants to notify the city they are doing so and pay a $500 annual fee in addition to their annual space permit. The agenda commentary specified the additional fee would cover the staff cost of additional oversight and security “associated with heightened activity” from a more intense use.
City code defines short-term rentals as any building, structure, trailer or other facility where the public pays for sleeping accommodations. A related item would amend the city’s fee schedule to include the new $500 fee and set a new fee provision of 5 percent of sale or $1,500, whichever is greater, for the administrative processing of documents related to the sale or transfer of boathouses. That fee now is $75.