City Manager Dean Kruithof said ODOT met last week with City of Miami officials and Ottawa County Commissioner Russell Earls for a pre-construction meeting about the bridge re-decking project.

MIAMI – As the start date of the Neosho River Bridge re-decking project has been moved forward, the City of Miami's effort to raise the State Highway 125 approaches to the bridge is being accelerated in order for the project’s construction to coincide.

City Manager Dean Kruithof said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) met last week with City of Miami officials and Ottawa County Commissioner Russell Earls for a pre-construction meeting about the bridge re-decking project.

Crossland Construction will serve as contractor for the re-decking project and Tetra Tech as the engineering firm overseeing the project.

Kruithof told the Miami City Council at Tuesday’s regular meeting ODOT has moved up the start of the Neosho River Bridge project to begin the first weeks of September. ODOT had previously predicted the project would begin in October.

“They’ve continually moved it up on us,” Kruithof said,

“We don’t yet have an exact start date on SH-125 but are looking at early September,” ODOT”s Public Information Manager Kenna Mitchell said later. “We will send out a notice before it starts.”

Electronic reader boards will be placed at the bridge for notification to travelers of closure and detours to Hwy. 69.

“It’s basically a 150 to 180-day project to complete, originally we had been told it would be a full year, that’s the good news,” Kriuithof said. “Now where we’re under the gun, we need to get the final word on this grant and the final engineering work from Olsson Associates.”

The quicker start and completion dates on the re-decking project mean the City of Miami must move quickly to coordinate the approach project. The goal of the approach project is to raise State Highway 125 above the frequent flooding that causes closure of the roadway, a major artery into and out of Miami. Closure of the highway disrupts business, limits emergency access, floods the Ottawa County Fairgrounds and affects events at the facility.

Olsson Associates has completed FEMA standard approved studies for the approach project and is in the process of a study to satisfy ODOT’s necessary standards.

“Even though the way Olsson designed it, it met all the FEMA standards but did not meet the ODOT standards, and those standards are making sure the water flows over so the water flows when we raise the roads and we’re not creating a dam," Kriuithof said. "Seems a little bureaucratic but their standards are designed that we would not have water on people’s property where we don’t have the right to put that water. Frankly, that’s what we’re fighting with GRDA, so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and that’s why we need to get that study done.”

Approval was given after a public hearing, which drew no comment, for submission of a grant application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Supplement Proposal for funding to address natural disasters related to the frequent flooding occurring over State Highway 125 and the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. Grand Gateway division’s Tami McKeon presented the application for consent.

The roadway approach portion of the project is expected to cost $2 million, for a total of under $5 million with riverbank stabilization also included. The design will raise the roadways up above flood levels on primarily earthen support with culverts to allow water to pass under the roadway. City and County workers will be working on in-kind work on the project.

The grant application is seeking funding for riverbank revitalization of both sides of the Neosho River in Riverview Park. The grant is a 50/50 matching grant. In-kind funding sources for the project includes Ottawa County, ODOT, Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife, the Cherokee Nation, and the City of Miami.

“We still have a very good chance if we can get the application in as expeditiously as we can,” McKeon said.

Kruithof said if both projects cannot be completed within the same timeframe, ODOT has indicated they would allow further closure to complete the approach work.

Gaines Tribute

Miami Mayor Rudy Schultz presented a proclamation to honor the late Steve and Cassie Gaines, brother and sister Miami natives, and members of the iconic Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.T he proclamation was issued to designate the honorary co-naming of Circle Drive in Miami.

The Dobson Museum’s Director Jordan Boyd and organizer Debbi East accepted the proclamation and thanked the City Council for approval of the honor.

“Debbie and I met about six years ago, we met with the late Larry Roberts in plans to put a tribute together, so it’s been a long time working on this,” Boyd said.

Steve and Cassie Gaines lives, along with other Lynyrd Skynyrd band members, ended tragically in a plane crash on Oct. 20, 1977.

Boyd and East announced Steve and Cassie Gaines will be inducted, posthumously, into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame on the afternoon of Sept. 8, in Miami during FestiFall.

The Gaines’ Miami home street co-naming ceremony will also be a part of this recognition celebration. Circle Drive, where the Gaines family lived and played in Rotary Park, will be co-named “Gaines Drive.” The tribute organizers are providing the street signage.

Steve Gaines was a 1967 graduate of Miami High School; Cassie Gaines was a 1966 graduate of Miami High School.

Steve was in many bands including Magic Kitchen and Man Alive. The bands performed many places in Miami; the Upstairs Club, the American Legion, the Civic Center, and the Mutt Hutt. Steve Gaines and his bands also played for proms and local dances. The last Miami band Steve Gaines was in was called Crawdad and he was in it until he became a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and played lead guitar; Cassie Gaines sang with the Honkettes as a backup singer.

Steve Gaines was posthumously inducted into the National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York City, New York in 20

A tribute display exhibit at the Dobson Museum is also in the planning stages for sometime next year. The Gaines’ display at the Dobson is a part of a larger Ottawa County Musicians Tribute being rolled out in stages honoring local artists including, the Gaines, Louis W. Ballard, Joe Don Rooney, Keifer Thompson, Keith Anderson and David Osborne and others the Miami High School Bands and music programs being honored.

As a part of these displays, the Dobson Museum is building murals, enlarging photos, acquiring artifacts and memorabilia and cases in which to display them.

City business

Approval was given for a no parking designation of three current parking spots on B Street NE in front of Nine Tribes Tower circle drive.

“Their thoughts are that it hinders views and creates a safety hazard,” Miami Chief of Police Thomas Anderson said.

Anderson said vehicles left parked there also block space that could be used for emergency vehicle accessibility.

New signage will be placed there to designate the no parking zone.

New rules and regulations were developed and approved for the operation of the Miami Regional Airport, which has adopted the FAA Rules and guidelines for the City’s airport. These rules have been modified and approved by the Airport Board as well. These rules establish standards and outline hanger rules and fueling standards.

“Miami just had never enacted these rules,” Anderson said.

Anderson said these rules and regulations bring the Airport up to date with standards in line with most other airports.

“As much as possible we try to run the Airport on its own revenues, and rules like this do capture revenues that we were losing, “ Kruithof said.

City of Miami employees will now be fully vested in the Employee Retirement System from seven years effective Sept. 1 of 2018 if approved. Previously City employees have been vested at 10 years of employment.

This change was only discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, and if approved will immediately affect 16 employees and four more next year, according to Miami’s Human Resource Director Kim Horn.

As of the end of April 2018, the City of Miami’s retirement plan had a market value of $11.1 million dollars. The pension vesting change effect on our performeter and financials would be $146,148 for the change.

In other business, the Council approved Fiscal Year 2018/2019 contracts with Ross Aviation, the Miami Regional Airport’s Fixed Base Operator, Community Crisis Center, Miami Seniors’ Center, Ottawa County Graduated Sanctions, and Grand Gateway-Pelivan.

A contract with Miami Public Schools was approved with a $70,000 reimbursement as well to provide two School Resource Officers for the 2018/2019 school year.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.