Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

County road costs lower than previous estimates

January 3, 2007

Leavenworth County Commissioners on Tuesday received some good news about the cost of upgrading County Road 1.

According to refined cost estimates provided by the engineering firm HNTB, the road improvement project will cost $12,961,000. That compares with previous estimates of $13.5 million to $14.5 million.

And commission chairman Dean Oroke pointed out: The new cost estimates include more work than previous estimates.

"This is much more inclusive of everything that would be involved, from dirt work to the final product, to guardrails and other safety features," Oroke said.

Improving six miles of County Road 1 from just south of Tonganoxie to Kansas Highway 32 is part of a larger project that includes an interchange on the Kansas Turnpike. So far, funding for the road improvements is not in place. The county has committed $8 million in sales tax revenues, while the Kansas Turnpike Authority has said it would pay $2 million of the cost.

The county was hopeful that another $1 million would be coming from the federal government, but that money was placed on hold, following the November election.

Officials with the city of Tonganoxie have offered to spend $1 million in city sales tax revenue -- at a rate of $100,000 a year for 10 years -- but that hasn't been finalized in writing.

But Oroke said he remains optimistic that additional funding for the project will come.

"We're short today, but we're looking at 2008," he said. "We're two years down the road yet."

And e believes it's possible the project won't cost the full $12.9 million. He thinks the county can handle some work on the project -- determining, for example, where septic tanks and utility easements are.

"It's legwork that we can do internally that can shed light on the decision-making process," he said.

The county will re-apply for federal highway dollars, and a delegation of county residents and officials, including Oroke and county planning director Chris Dunn, will lobby next month in Washington, D.C., for this project, and others.

After the presentation, Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he's been in touch with KTA officials about the project.

"My understanding is that if it goes much past the end of the year, they would have to take another look and study their traffic projections, revenue projections and cost estimates for building the interchange itself," he said. "They are still committed at this time."

While the $12.9 million cost is in 2006 dollars, Shawn Stover of HNTB said it also includes nearly $2.5 million for contingencies and inflation. The most recent cost estimate won't be the last.

Other, more refined estimates, will be made, Stover said, and detailed estimates will proceed the project going out for bids.

He also emphasized the most recent cost estimate will change, as additional engineering and study of the highway corridor is completed.

Stover said the road will be built to accommodate traffic traveling 55 mph on two lanes. No homes will be taken by the project, he said, but the grades of some driveways will change. And the county will have to replace some fences and mailboxes.

He also said some hills would be cut down and some low spots raised during construction. The new road will feature two 12-foot lanes with six-foot paved shoulders.

According to a schedule Stover gave commissioners on Tuesday:

  • The 18-month design phase would stretch into fall 2008.
  • Right of way acquisition would occur late this year and early next year.
  • Utility relocations would occur next year.

"We could see this construction starting as early as September or October of '08," he said.

And Stover said he anticipates several public information sessions during the project.

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