BLOOMFIELD — Councilors discussed a $3 million dollar bill for the expansion of Highway 64 Tuesday night.

The state intends to receive bids from contractors at the end of August and award a bid in October, but Interim City Manager Julie Baird expects that the cost will be about $3 million regardless of any low bids.

According to Baird, about half of the pricetag results from $1.5 million in costs associated with water utilities such as water line and fire hydrant moves, new valves, better water circulation and services. The rest of the cost is from sewage utility costs. Funds for the project are through a federal earmark, an appropriation from the Water Trust Board and a federal Environmental Protection Agency grant.

Some councilors expressed concern about interference with improvements and construction on Maple Street that will take place just before the expansion in early 2011.

"We said to ourselves, (The Department of Transportation) is going to come back and rip it up less than a year later just to put in their storm drain,'" Baird said. However, according to Baird, the Maple Street project will be reduced in work and cost — and then the expansion project will pick up where the city ends.

Councilor Curtis Lynch worried about the effects of the project on local businesses off of Highway 64, noting that the construction could affect traffic to shops and possibly put some out of business.

According to Councilor Matt Pennington representatives from the project assured Pennington's family business, the Farmer's Market that workers would set out cones and signs to maintain steady traffic to the shops off of the road.

"When it's being done, we need to even maybe have a liaison," Pennington suggested, hoping to guarantee that the effect on businesses would be closely watched. The approval of the project will be voted during the next council meeting.

The 18-month project is expected last between January 2011 and late spring, early summer of 2012.

Other items discussed at the agenda included the approval of the Fiscal Year 2010/2011 final budget along with upcoming improvements on the City Hall.

Bloomfield Police Chief Mike Kovacs also presented a summary of arrests and citations over the past year, showing an overall increase in both. He attributed the increase to a suffering economy and tough times.

Jenny Kane:

jkane@daily-times.com