Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leavenworth share of Route 1 link goes up

January 30, 2008

Officials now put Leavenworth County's cost of improving County Road 1, part of the project to open a new interchange on the Kansas Turnpike, at $10.8 million.

The total includes construction, engineering, right of way acquisition and utility relocation.

The estimate was presented Thursday to Leavenworth County commissioners and based on engineering estimates from HNTB and the Kansas Department of Transportation's agreement to share in the costs of realigning a road tying together U.S. Highway 24-40 and County Road 1 south and west of Tonganoxie.

In all, Public Works director Mike Spickelmier estimated the cost of the work at $14.3 million. To arrive at the county's price tag, Spickelmier said he subtracted $2 million offered by the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which will pay for the actual interchange with Interstate 70, a $500,000 federal appropriation and a projected $1,040,116 contribution from KDOT.

"I think we (the county) will be able to implement those funds successfully without too much trouble," Spickelmier said, noting that the numbers he presented were still "fairly fluid."

KDOT officials, who were present at Thursday's meeting with officials from the county, KTA and HNTB, acknowledged the department's willingness to participate in the project but were not ready to agree to a more than $1 million commitment.

In talks that have been under way since September, KDOT officials offered to pay up to half of the costs for realigning a tie-in with U.S. 24-40, which is slated to run from CR-1 south of Honey Creek Road to 24-40.

It was believed originally, however, that construction costs for the tie-in would not exceed $800,000.

But according to HNTB's engineering estimates presented Thursday, realignment which includes the addition of a large drainage culvert would now cost over $2 million, including redesign.

Ron Seitz, Chief of KDOT's Bureau of Local Projects, asserted that KDOT would agree to share in the difference of the cost between the two projections but questioned whether it would fund 50 percent of the total cost.

Seitz also said he was not sure whether the cost increase was proportional only to the quarter-mile increase in road created by the tie-in.

In regard to new acceleration, deceleration and turning lanes on U.S. 24-40, including in the redesign, Seitz said, "To my knowledge, we had not agreed to participate in those at all."

Rod Lacy, with KDOT's Bureau of Design added, "We want to partner with the county and we understand the county's need to get this done," but he also said KDOT never agreed to an exact percentage to contribute.

At one point in the meeting Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said, without KDOT support, added costs would be "a significant portion of our (the county's) budgeting capabilities," and questioned whether they would be enough to be a "deal breaker."

Commission Chairman Clyde Graeber said, "We've got a very supportive response from KDOT, and I don't want to overstep that commitment."

Commissioner Dean Oroke, who said he has lived north of the current intersection of CR-1 and U.S. 24-40 for more than 20 years, said the proposed realignment, which will create a safer, perpendicular intersection, "was necessary despite the additional costs."

The 3rd District commissioner noted at least four fatalities and a large number of accidents at the current intersection south of Tonganoxie.

"It's a very deserving road improvement for those entering and exiting County Road 1," Oroke said.

Although KDOT's commitment to the CR-1 project is still up in the air, Leavenworth County's contribution to the undertaking will be paid for out of a voter-approved, countywide 1-cent sales tax, which runs through 2016. When approved in 2004, it was estimated the tax would bring in about $27.2 million in revenue. In addition to the $10.8 million designated for County Road 1, commissioners have also considered drawing from the tax for a countywide communications upgrade, last estimated at approximately $12.4 million.

KDOT representatives agreed to meet back with the board in the coming weeks.

Spickelmier said right of way acquisition for the project is under way and should be complete by March 1.

In business Monday, the board received a U.S. Highway 24-40 management presentation by KDOT representatives as well.

City of Basehor staff, businessmen and elected officials urged KDOT members to retain a signal light at 155th Street as improvements are made to the highway as part of a U.S. 24-40 corridor improvement project.

Basehor City Administrator Carl Slaugh noted that, in order to be eligible for corridor funding from KDOT, Basehor officials would have to approve a plan with one-mile spacing of signal lights.

A preliminary corridor management plan from KDOT called for the removal of the light at 155th, something "that at the present time, doesn't seem to be an option for (Basehor)," Slaugh said.

Slaugh presented a resolution the City Council recently passed requesting stoplights be included in the plans at 142nd, 150th, 158th, 166th and 174th Streets, while keeping the light at 155th Street as well.

Kristi Pyle, with KDOT, replied that the corridor management plan was written to "maintain mile spacing" and to keep traffic moving "efficiently and safely."

She pointed to a high number of respondents to a U.S. 24-40 corridor management survey that emphasized maintaining a high speed with minimal stops on the highway.

No agreement was reached Monday, but Pyle said, "We're going to continue to work with Basehor : KDOT wants as an agency to actively engage in these conversations."


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