Motorists and park-goers will soon be greeted by new signs as they make their way around Soldotna.
As part of the Downtown Improvement Plan, the city has designed with the help of residents and business owners three highway gateway sings that will mark the entrance to Soldonta from the Sterling and Kenai Spur Highways, as well as smaller signs that will be updated in several of the city’s parks.
Soldotna will send the project out to bid either at the end of the week or the beginning of next week, said Project Manager Lee Frey with the city’s public works department.
The project is a combination of what began as two separate endeavors, said Director of Economic Development and Planning Stephanie Queen. In July 2014, the Soldotna City Council appropriated funds for the Downtown Improvement Plan, which includes the gateway signs project, she said. Last summer, further funds were appropriated for new park signs. It made more sense to bundle the projects into one, Queen said.
“We’re going to set the budget at $230,000 to build as many signs as possible,” Frey said.
The highway gateway signs are designed to be 10 feet wide and about 14-16 feet high. One sign will be located between the Sterling Highway and Kleeb Loop, and will replace the single existing gateway sign near Mackey Lake Road. Another is slated to be located at the Kenai River on the Sterling Highway, on the southeast side of the bridge crossing. The third will be placed near the intersection of the Kenai Spur Highway and Knight Drive on a piece of land owned buy the Kenai Peninsula Borough, according to the Downtown Improvement Plan.
The locations for the two signs slated to be on the Sterling Highway have already been approved by the state, said Austin Johnson, a planning and GIS technician with the city. Approval of the third sign’s location on the Kenai Spur Highway is given by the borough, which Johnson said he is still working with closely for final approval.
The new park signs are slated to go up in as many of the parks as possible, including at Soldotna Creek Park, Centennial Park, Rotary Park, Swiftwater Park and the rodeo grounds, Queen said.
The project bid will be out for about a month, Frey said.
“We’ll ask for them to build it some time this summer,” he said.
While some of the final design decisions will be flexible when it comes to working with the contractor, Queen said the city generally pulled elements from other city parks or construction projects that were appealing, which should help tie the signs into the rest of the community. The city spent a year coming up with the current designs with input from the public, she said.
Queen also emphasized that the updated signage is part of the larger Downtown Improvement Plan, which includes suggestions for improving landscaping, parking, intersections and sidewalks, among other goals.
“These signs are one piece of a broader strategy that’s focused on our downtown,” she said.
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