Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bridge to get quick fix

June 20, 2007

A temporary fix on the Pleasant Street bridge will allow the emergency vehicles to use the span while buying the city time to apply for funding for a long-term solution.

City Administrator Mike Yanez announced the news Tuesday night during a budget work session with City Council members.

Yanez said in a recent meeting with BG Consultant's bridge engineers he was told the repair option would close the bridge only for two or three weeks, but could last for five to seven years. That would give the city enough time to wait for state and federal money to pay for 80 percent of the cost of a bridge replacement.

"It buys us time, which allows us to make application for those state and federal funds that wouldn't be available until 2010. If this is something we want to pursue we can have a new deck by Labor Day," Yanez said.

A recent inspection led officials to place a 5-ton weight limit on the Pleasant Street bridge, which means the structure is off limits to fire engines and ambulances.

The repairs would consist of removing the bridge's existing deck and creating a reinforced superstructure with a metal grating deck that will be overlaid with asphalt. The repairs would reinforce the bridge enough so that large vehicles, including fire trucks and ambulances, could cross safely.

"First of all we can sleep and night and we don't have to worry about not knowing what the bridge is made of," Council Member Jim Truesdell said.

The temporary bridge repair will be allow it to be as wide as the 31-foot street width proposed for the Pleasant Street improvements.

To accommodate the new Pleasant Street sidewalk, Butch Rodgers, the city's superintendent, and Brian Kingsley, of BG Consultants, will discuss narrowing the street on the bridge to allow the five feet needed for the sidewalk.

Yanez said the city staff was looking at the 2007 budget to find the approximate $35,000 needed for this bridge repair. At 1/10th of the price of the city replacing the bridge itself, the repair cost will also be less expensive than developing East Street as an emergency roadway.

The council also discussed the Pleasant Street developments, and for now, it is looking to put $800,000 in the 2008 budget for the street improvements.

Fourth Street Phase III

It looks like the street improvements on Fourth Street from the bridge to South Park will be pushed back until 2008.

"We don't have time. There is no way that can be completed by winter," Rodgers said.

Delays are coming from some of the utility companies not being able move their utilities to the south side of Fourth Street as planned. For example, Rodgers spoke with representatives for telephone utilities and he was told moving poles could take up to three months.

"Even if they started it tomorrow, count three months before we could start construction. You don't want to be in the middle of winter working on a project. We've never done that in Tonganoxie; I don't know if you would want to start now," he said.

Kingsley also found out that Kansas Gas Service may not be able to move its lines to the south, which means some redesigning may be necessary.

"I think Butch is right, I think you are looking at spring '08 construction so long as easement acquisition goes smoothly and all of the property owners agree on the concepts we bring to them," Kingsley said.

Skate Park

If all goes according to plan the city may be looking into contributing around $100,000 toward a new skate park.

The original draft of the five-year capital plan had the $100,000 allocated for a skate park for 2010, but concerns about building the facility while many children were still interested in helping to raise funds for it moved the project for next year's budget.

"It will certainly motivate them to do more fundraising for themselves if they actually see that this thing is going to come to some final conclusion instead of, 'do we do this fundraising for two more years and then we have no idea if anyone will actually approve this thing or not,'" Council member Steve Gumm said.

Other council members agreed they needed to make the skate park a higher priority.

"It's obvious that this is something of great interest for kids," Council member Jason Ward said. "As far as I'm concerned, this would be an additional item we can provide to the kids of Tonganoxie."

The question still remaining for the council before the city can proceed with the skate park is where it would be placed. One of the ideas bounced is in a soon-to-be vacant lot next to the fire station where the city currently stores gravel.

Yanez said he previously had proposed the site, but the skate group and the then-mayor Dave Taylor did not like that site.

There will be at least one more budget work session before the city finalizes the 2008 budget by Aug. 24. Council members will schedule the session during their regular meeting on Monday.

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