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Woodside adds funds for bridge rehabilitation

A long-term bridge rehabilitation program and the occasional presence at the planning desk in Woodside Town Hall of an in-house architectural consultant are among the late-approved allocations from the town's budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

For the bridge program, the Town Council, at its June 24 meeting, authorized the seeding of a capital reserve fund with $750,000 from the general fund. The reserve fund is slated to grow by $250,000 annually until the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The town had the wherewithal to create this fund, in part, due to a 2013 one-time back payment of just over $1 million in property tax revenues from San Mateo County.

As with plans to sequester $100,000 annually over five years to rehabilitate the town's storm-drain system, allocations to the bridge program will be placeholders, Town Manager Kevin Bryant said. Costs could exceed what town finances could bear, in which case the council may turn to traditional ways of capital project fundraising: bond measures, low-interest loans and grants.

Bridge fund

Three century-old bridges -- on Kings Mountain Road, Portola Road and Mountain Home Road -- are not equipped for modern two-way traffic, with its heavier, larger and more powerful vehicles. The state designated all three bridges "functionally obsolete" and the council is facing choices that could involve millions of dollars and potentially affect Woodside's rural character.

Federal funds are available for 90 percent of the costs, but such funds bring with them federal safety standards, including 40-foot-wide roadways -- a more modern appearance than is typical or desired in Woodside.

A $159,000 forensic analysis of the three bridges is underway to determine whether they're safe and can be maintained to state standards without the need for federal funds.

Architect in Town Hall

Members of the Planning Department staff at Town Hall have been working long hours as the economy improves and home construction and remodeling surge. The burden is also heavy on the town's Architectural and Site Review Board, particularly for projects that reflect insufficient attention to residential design guidelines.

Planning Director Jackie Young, during an earlier budget discussion, noted that the city of Mountain View has an in-house architect to help applicants with designs early in the process.

"Maybe that's the right addition, an architectural consultant," Town Manager Kevin Bryant said at the time.

"The town staff and the town would benefit enormously," Councilwoman Anne Kasten said. "As the projects get more complex, we need to get more precise."

Councilman Peter Mason, an architect himself, noted the value an architect can bring by simplifying a project.

The budget includes $50,000 for architectural consulting, with a focus on complex projects.

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