Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Local street construction season to see less activity than recent years

April 6, 2006

For the most part, De Soto motorists will be spared orange barrels and closed streets this summer as they drive about the city.

That will be a departure from the past three years, which saw the reconstruction of 83rd Street from Shawnee to Ferry streets, resurfacing of 83rd Street and Penner Avenue from Y to Y, major improvements to Lexington Avenue, resurfacing of Waverly Road and last fall's reconfiguration of the east Y.

LRM Construction of Lawrence will return to Waverly Road to lay the second layer of chip-and-seal paving, complete drainage improvements left undone until phone easement work was completed, and finish the cleanup, city engineer Mike Brungardt said.

The biggest projects completed the past three years were among those paid for by the bond issue authorized after city voters approved a 3/4-cent sales tax for infrastructure improvements in October 2001. It was agreed the $2.5 million bond issue would be front-loaded to get the long overdue improvements completed.

Although there is some hope retail growth could allow for one more big project in the sales tax's 10-year life, the bond proceeds are now nearly exhausted.

That means the city will have to look for other funding mechanisms to pay for needed street projects. One increasingly popular source with the De Soto City Council has been benefit districts, although the council has shied away from imposing them on residents or businesses not volunteering to participate in their formation.

The De Soto City Council agreed to a benefit district with FCB Financial that will have the bank pay 25 percent of the cost of extending Golden Lane from its present dead end in De Meadows to Lexington Avenue.

The city is currently engaged in a study that could lead to the city participating in another benefit district with Kill Creek Investors, the developer of the Arbor Ridge subdivision, for improvements to 83rd Street from Kill Creek Road to Waverly Road.

As part of its final plat, Kill Creek Investors agreed to install turn lanes into the subdivision and sidewalks along 83rd Street. The city and the developer have agreed to explore a benefit district that would make additional improvements to 83rd with the developer contributing the $672,000 it committed to spending for the required improvements and the city contributing the rest.

Phelps Engineering Inc. has been awarded a contract to provide preliminary plans and cost estimates of improvements, such as widening 83rd to three or four lanes between Kill Creek to Waverly roads and adding curbs and gutters to the same section.

Brungardt estimated it would be early summer before the city council had the information on different options. If the council agreed to move ahead with the benefit district concept, the project could start next spring, he said.

A benefit district has also been mentioned as a way to pay for the traffic lights needed on the Lexington Avenue intersections of Commerce Drive and 91st Street, although nothing has been proposed. The city contracted the firm of Bucher, Willis and Ratcliff to develop plans for lights, which are estimated to cost $150,000 each.

The lights would also likely be a fall project, if for no other reason than the few companies that make signal light poles have lengthy backlogs, Brungardt said.

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