BARSTOW - The city will move ahead with plans to build a bridge over Lenwood Road near Main Street to accommodate increased train traffic. At Tuesday's city council meeting, the council voted unanimously to award the $301,000 contract to consulting firm Parsons for the project which will eliminate the need for a railroad crossing on Lenwood Road. Council members and staff were concerned that Parsons did not have the necessary experience for the project. Others worried that rival bidder San Bernardino Associated Governments would be too busy for the Barstow contract because the organization is undertaking seven other rail-crossing projects.

"It's a coin toss either way," said the Acting City Manager Ron Rector.

In other actions decided at the meeting:

o Due to the absence of city Finance Director Gil Olivarez, the council postponed the presentation of the city's 2007 financial report and the awarding of a contract to consulting firm Bureau Veritas to review bidders for the city's wastewater treatment upgrade project. Those items will be discussed during the council's Feb. 4

o After holding a protest hearing, the council approved for city staff to issue liens to property owners with outstanding trash bills. Residents owe more than $95,000 in unpaid bills.

o The city will donate a used transit bus to the Mojave Valley Volunteer Hospice so that the organization can transport for hospital visits. The bus was donated in the memory of long-time hospice volunteer
Donna Zeller.

o The city's Human Resource Manager Eileen Martin presented employees Ava Reyes and Bernie Klingenberg with the 2007 Employee of the Year award. Sabrina Ellis was named the employee of the quarter.

o The council voted unanimously to extend its contract with consulting firm DPRA, spending up to $230,000 to build additional wells and groundwater testing in the Soap Mine Road area. The city was found responsible in 2004 for polluting the water with nitrates and ordered by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control board to perform the testing and clean up efforts.

o The council voted unanimously to cancel its Feb. 18 meeting because it falls on the President's Day Holiday. The meeting may be rescheduled for a different day.