County OKs funds for plan to fight erosion
Work should get under way soon on a construction design plan designed to prevent further erosion of a bank along the Kansas River in southern Leavenworth County.
"I think they'll get going very quickly on it," said Keith Browning, Douglas County public works director and county engineer.
The river is threatening to change course, cutting a new channel north of the bridge that connects Leavenworth and Douglas counties. That would mean the bridge would span an oxbow, and Leavenworth County Road 1 could be under water.
Cost of the construction design plan would be shared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Leavenworth and Douglas counties. The two counties' total share of the plan is estimated at $25,000 to $30,000, Browning said. The Corps of Engineers would pay for the remaining costs.
Last week, Leavenworth County commissioners reiterated that they would equally split those costs with Douglas County. Apparently, county commissioners had agreed earlier to split the costs on a 50-50 basis, but hadn't told anyone. In fact, in an interview with The Mirror last week County Commissioner Don Navinsky said the amount the county would pay for the construction design plan still was a point of negotiation.
"That has not been determined all the way yet," Navinsky said.
But Wayne Eldridge, commission chairman, said this week that the matter had been decided.
"The county engineer hadn't notified Douglas County," Eldridge said. "We were trying to get by as cheap as we could. It wasn't relayed back to them, as we had discussed, by our county engineer. It needs to be taken care of. Leavenworth County keeps losing property over there."
While Leavenworth County has agreed to split the costs of the construction design plan, actual construction costs are another matter, Eldridge said.
"We'll negotiate it, more than likely," he said.
The construction costs are estimated at $1.3 million to $1.6 million. The Corps of Engineers would pay 65 percent of the costs, and Douglas County has budgeted funds to cover its share of a 50-50 split, Browning said.
The Kansas City, Mo., firm of Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff likely will complete the construction design plans by the end of the year, Browning said. "The funding for construction (from the Corps) is still very much up in the air," Browning said. "I think we're going to try to keep our legislators informed and see if they want to provide any political input on it."
Shirley Davidson, a Linwood resident, had organized a group to visit last Thursday with Leavenworth County commissioners. Davidson, who was under the impression that the county had not agreed to pay for its share of the construction design plans, was surprised at the meeting.
"It is a go," she said. "But why didn't they let us all know? We're not sure what was going on up there. They knew they had agreed to do that, but it was not in the minutes."
Regardless, Davidson, secretary of the Fall Leaf Drainage District in extreme southern Leavenworth County, is pleased that design now can proceed.
"Somebody realizes we're in trouble," said Davidson, whose farm is along Leavenworth County Road 1, between the river and Kansas Highway 32.