Archive for Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Fourth Street improvement project complete

August 3, 2005

Now that the Fourth Street construction has stopped, Tonganoxie firefighters are looking forward to cleaning their trucks only once a week.

"Once you cleaned them, 10 minutes later they were filled with dust," Lt. Joe Peel said. "We washed them about three times a week."

About a week ago, construction crews finished widening a segment of Fourth Street from Main Street to the Tonganoxie Creek bridge. The street was widened from 20 feet to 31 feet.

The new width matches the rest of Fourth Street toward U.S. Highway 24-40, except for the business section, which is 40 feet wide.

"It went really well," Butch Rodgers, city superintendent said.

Other than a few rain delays, he said the project, which began in May, finished on time. Grass won't be planted until cooler weather arrives in the fall.

Heavier traffic down the deteriorating segment of Fourth Street triggered the move to widen the street, Rodgers said earlier.

Fixing the broken road pleased many people, especially the firefighters.

"You're not going to find anyone happier than us," Capt. John Callaghan said.

The construction caused problems when maneuvering the fire trucks down the street and the drainage system is much better now that the street's been fixed, he said.

Jerry Starcher, owner of S&S Body Shop, 922 Fourth St., said the poor drainage was his main concern before the city fixed the street. Water often flooded the building's property, Starcher said. He said the lower street level and higher curbs should help keep his shop dry.

"It's made a heck of a difference already," he said. "We haven't had a big rain to prove it, but from the years I've been here I can look at it and tell it'll make a big difference."

The similar drainage problem occurred at the fire station. Before the street was fixed, water often accumulated in front of the station when the trucks were washed, Peel said.

Nancy Schneider said she liked the new road, but safety would be a greater concern. A wider road would give more freedom to speeding youths who she watches drive down the street after school, she said.

"They used to drive up and down this street fast before it got fixed," Schneider said, who also works at S&S. "I can't imagine what it'll do now."

Nonetheless, Peel said widening this segment would help alleviate heavy traffic, especially when the new middle school is built on Washington Street. But the street needs to be widened past the bridge because it's still narrow for two big trucks to pass each other, he said.

Fourth Street, from the bridge to the South Park subdivision, will be widened, but not until the summer of 2007, said Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator.

For now Callaghan and Peel are happy with the wider and improved street.

"We like it," Callaghan said.

"We like it, now that it's done," Peel added.

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