Posts tagged with Johnson County

Johnson County Veterans’ breakfast planned

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District's 50 Plus Department is again teaming with the city of Overland Park and the Johnson County Library to offer Veteran's Day activities at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty, Overland Park.

Participants can join members of the color guard as they raise the flag and honor veterans. Chris Cakes will provide pancakes and sausage. A choral presentation by the Overland Stage Chorus will start right after breakfast.

Veterans will eat free. For family members and members of the public, there will be a $5 charge for breakfast.

Reservations are required by Nov. 3 and can be made by calling (913) 642-6410 or online at jcprd.com. Perform a catalog search for the keyword “celebration.” Interpretive services or other accommodations for special needs should be requested when registering.

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I-35 marking project hours changed

Thanks to progress made last weekend, a project to finish new markings for Interstate 35 lanes will not shut down lanes again this weekend.

The Kansas Department of Transportation began the pavement marking project Oct. 14 on northbound and southbound I-35 from Southwest Boulevard to the Kansas/Missouri state line in Wyandotte County. Crews began around-the-clock work last weekend, reducing the highway to one lane at times.

Work was to continue this weekend, but KDOT announced today that due to the diligent work of the contractor, Twin Traffic Marking, and KDOT construction staff, along with the great weather, the second set of closures have been cancelled. Any remaining work will be completed during the weekdays over the next couple of weeks, Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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Johnson County consolidates emergency departments

The Board of Johnson County Commissioners unanimously approved a new county department at their regular meeting last Thursday, Oct. 13. The new Johnson County Department of Emergency Management and Communications will be an umbrella department for emergency management and emergency communications.

The new department consolidates the former Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security with the Department of Emergency Communications and is expected to save approximately $93K in the county’s proposed 2013 Budget, according to a press release regarding the change. The release states that no employees of the county will be laid off as a result of the consolidation but that the money will be saved through changes in staffing and not filling a vacant position.

“The goal of merging the two departments is to partner together to provide more efficient, cost-effective emergency service and communications to Johnson County citizens and to other public safety agencies in Johnson County,” said County Manager Hannes Zacharias . “It’s a win-win change in streamlining our operations.”

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KDOT warns drivers to expect major weekend delays

Highway construction projects originally scheduled for last weekend will be completed this weekend, according to a release from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

KDOT warns drivers to expect "major delays" if using westbound I-435 and to avoid the area if possible.

Roadwork on Interstate 435 began at 9 a.m. this morning with the closure of the entrance ramp from Quivira Road to I-435.

All lanes of westbound I-435 between U.S. Highway 69 and Interstate 35 will close at 7 p.m. tonight. All entrance and exit ramps between U.S. 69 and I-435, I-35 and I-435 and the westbound ramp from I-435 to Quivira Road will also be closed. All work is expected to be completed by 5 a.m. Monday morning, Oct. 17.

According to the release from KDOT, advance message boards will remind traffic of the closures and marked detours will be provided. Drivers can keep track of traffic online.

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Kansas transportation secretary supports Obama’s jobs bill; KDOT unveils $650 million in road, bridge projects

Her boss may not like it, but Kansas Department of Transportation Deb Miller said Thursday she’d like President Barack Obama’s jobs bill to be approved.

“We’d be very excited if the jobs bill passed,” Miller said. She said passage of the bill would mean $260 million in additional revenue for transportation projects in Kansas.

Miller’s boss, Gov. Sam Brownback, has expressed opposition to the jobs bill.

Obama has proposed a $447 billion bill, saying it would help jumpstart the economy. It would extend and expand a cut in payroll taxes paid by employees and it includes funds for roads, bridges, schools and grants to local governments to pay salaries of teachers and first responders. It would raise funds through tax increases on wealthier people.

Brownback appointed Miller, making her the lone holdover Cabinet member from the administrations of Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, who are both Democrats. Brownback is a Republican.

Miller’s comment about Obama’s proposal came in response to a question during a news conference in which she unveiled a two-year schedule of $650 million in transportation projects.

Most of the projects are described as preservation jobs, such as bridge replacements, overlays, road rehabilitation and pavement replacement. They are part of the T-WORKS transportation plan approved by the 2010 Legislature.

“These aren’t the rock star projects,” she said. “This is the type of work that keeps the Kansas roadway system in great condition.”

One website breaks down the projects by county and another website will show how the projects are progressing.

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Becoming a national attraction: Museum leaders say vision can’t happen at current Shawnee facility; commissioners say cost for new building is too high

The Johnson County Museum of History envisions moving out of its current Shawnee location and building a new, $44 million National Museum of Suburbia from the ground up.

More realistically, the museum will keep looking for an existing Johnson County building it can renovate and grow into a national museum one phase at a time.

Either way, the museum’s plans call for escaping the 1927 structure at 6305 Lackman Road.

“There’s not room for us to expand, even if we wanted to stay there,” said Mindi Love, the museum’s executive director. “It doesn’t work very well for our mission, and for the vision we have for the future.”

On Thursday, Love presented the Johnson County Board of Commissioners with the museum’s 2011 master plan, which includes estimated construction costs, fundraising goals and attendance numbers required to build and sustain a National Museum of Suburbia and Suburban Policy Forum.

While commissioners generally supported the vision — and helping the museum find better quarters — they shot down the possibility of bankrolling an all-new museum in the immediate future.

“That’s not on our radar screen, let me put it that way,” Chairman Ed Eilert said. “But we’ll continue to think about other possibilities.”

The museum’s 2008 master plan introduced the idea of creating a center for suburban studies, Love said. Museum leaders have since undertaken a community survey, met with stakeholders, visited Washington, D.C., museums and hired a consultant.

The vision

Sketches for the current vision include a large lobby — decorated with the museum’s White Haven Motor Lodge sign and 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air — that would double as an event space, and an auditorium that could accommodate museum or county events as well as community productions. The story of Johnson County, described as an “archetypal suburban community,” would be one of multiple exhibits set up to depict the history of suburbia nationwide, from physical design to critiques of various aspects of suburbia. Plans also call for a hands-on children’s exhibition.

The museum wants to improve its current missions — including community programming and research opportunities — and to become a nationwide destination, consultant Guy Hermann of Museum Insights told commissioners.

The Suburban Policy Forum would be a place to discuss the future of suburbia, Hermann said. But unlike some think-tank type organizations, it would aim to actually connect researchers with decision-makers such as elected officials and developers. It might even play host to design competitions for real suburban development projects.

The museum estimates it needs 56,000 to 70,000 square feet to realize the vision.

It would cost an estimated $34 million in county funds to build (or 10 to 30 percent less to renovate an existing building) with another $9.7 million in fundraising to create exhibits and an endowment. If attendance rose as anticipated, and admission fees were instated, annual operating expenses would increase from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Current accommodations

The museum’s current facility was built in 1927 to house the two-room Greenwood School but has been added onto about nine times, Love said. The county purchased the building in 1964, and the museum opened in 1967.

About 1,500 square feet of the 20,000 square-foot building was damaged when it flooded in 2009, Love said. No longer acceptable for the public, the space is now used for storage.

The museum also has about 4,000 square feet of storage area at an off-site location in Olathe. Some offices are off-site, as well.

Finding a new home

Not only does the museum struggle with space, its current location has poor visibility, Hermann told county commissioners.

Not unlike retail stores, the museum wants a new home that’s close to population centers, other amenities and possibly a historic area, Hermann said. Also, its design should be recognizable.

There are plenty of empty office buildings, but unfortunately they aren’t a good option, Hermann said. Not only do they lack distinctive design, they usually don’t have high enough ceilings to install exhibits.

While the museum previously envisioned moving closer to the center of Johnson County’s population, Love said a location closer to Kansas City — possibly in the older part of Johnson County as opposed to Olathe, for example — would be better for a national museum hoping to attract outside visitors.

So far, Love said, the museum hasn’t found much.

“We’re looking countywide,” Love said. “As a county museum, we certainly are not committed to stay in Shawnee, but that certainly doesn’t preclude Shawnee from our search.”

Commissioner Michael Ashcraft commended the museum’s attempt to reach for the next level, saying the plan does deserve a continued look. However, he said the county has other big-ticket requests — including new library branches and more space for the courts — and called the price tag for the museum’s vision a challenge, “today and probably for some time in the future.”

“I appreciate your visioning success,” Ashcraft said. “It’s the implementation that will be a challenge.”

By Sara Shepard

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K-10 repaving project is back on; work to begin Monday morning

The Kansas Highway 10 construction project is back on.

Rumble strips and paved roadside shoulders are coming to that stretch of K-10 that runs from the edge of Lawrence to the Johnson County line.

Accompanying the safety improvements will be a new 1.5-inch-thick layer of pavement, giving the popular four-lane highway a fresh surface for the first time in 12 years.

The work starts at 9 a.m. Monday. It had been scheduled to start twice before, but then postponed.

“We’ll do the best we can to minimize the frustration for everybody,” said Jason Van Nice, the project’s construction manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Crews from Perry-based Hamm Construction will handle the $4.3 million job, scheduled to be finished in early November.

Beginning Monday, crews will start patching areas that have major damage, starting at the eastern edge of Lawrence and working their way east. They will patch in one lane for eastbound traffic at a time; after that, they’ll switch over to lanes used by traffic heading back into Lawrence.

Expect patching to last a week, with crews working mostly during daytime hours.

“We’ll probably be moving around quite a bit that first week,” Van Nice said. “We’ll fix the really bad spots so they don’t get any worse.”

After that, crews will turn their attention to grinding off the top inch of the highway’s asphalt — again, one lane at a time on one side of the highway — before laying down a thicker layer of fresh material, often the same day. Much of that work will be done after dark, Van Nice said, to minimize traffic disruptions.

The highway typically handles more than 25,000 vehicles a day, including more than 1,100 heavy commercial trucks.

“Most of the big work will be overnight,” Van Nice said.

Crews will be allowed to work seven days a week, but — by contract — they will be prohibited from working or having any lanes closed during specific periods of high traffic:

• From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, considered peak travel times for commuters.

• Saturdays when Kansas University has a home football game: Oct. 15, Oct. 22 and, if the project isn’t finished yet, Nov. 12.

The speed limit will be reduced from 70 mph to 55 mph in areas where crews are working. No more than one lane of traffic, in one direction, will be closed at any one time, Van Nice said.

Some ramp closures may cause detours, Van Nice said, but crews will attempt to keep ramps open even while repaving work is being conducted in the area. Any work involving a ramp closure will be done overnight.

“We’re trying to minimize the inconvenience,” Van Nice said.

By George Diepenbrock

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Litter Fest hits highways this weekend

The Midwest Litter Fest, a 45-mile trash-grabbing event from Johnson County to Lawrence, is set for Saturday.

The event will celebrate the arrival of Pick Up America, the nation’s first coast-to-coast roadside litter cleanup, in the Kansas City area.

To register a team, contact Julie Coon at Julie.Coon@jocogov.org or (913) 715-6938. One parent or guardian must be present for every three volunteers aged 11 to 15. For more information go to pickupamerica.org.

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K-10 commuters get another reprieve; construction now delayed indefinitely

The Kansas Department of Transportation has again delayed construction work that was scheduled to begin Wednesday on Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence.

KDOT had already delayed the Douglas County project twice. It said the contractor, Hamm Construction of Perry, has had scheduling conflicts with its project on the Kansas Turnpike, and Tuesday afternoon KDOT officials said the K-10 project would be suspended until further notice. Hamm won the $4.3 million bid to repave the driving lanes and expand the shoulders to include rumble strips from Lawrence east for eight miles to the Johnson County line.

KDOT spokeswoman Kim Qualls said officials would give the public a minimum notice of two days before work begins on K-10, and contractors are still scheduled to complete the project in early November, weather permitting.

KDOT officials have also said once construction starts crews will be working day and night except for peak travel times from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and on Kansas University home football game days.

By George Diepenbrock

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Start of construction on K-10 east of Lawrence postponed again — to next Wednesday

The start of construction on Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence again has been delayed.

It’s now scheduled to start next Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Transportation has announced.

KDOT spokeswoman Kim Qualls said scheduling conflicts have affected the start date for the $4.3 million project by Hamm Construction of Perry because Hamm is working to complete a project on the Kansas Turnpike near Lawrence.

On K-10, workers will patch and resurface the eight miles of the driving lanes — and widen shoulders with rumble strips — between Lawrence and the Johnson County line. Work originally was to begin last Monday, but now has been delayed twice. The project is expected to be done in November.

Qualls said that once construction starts, crews will be working day and night, but not during peak travels times from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and on Kansas University home football gamedays.

Drivers on the busy highway should expect delays because the highway will be reduced to one lane each way in one- to two-mile stretches.

“Drivers should expect delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes, if possible,” Qualls said.

KDOT said the work zone speed limit will be 55 mph and drivers are urged to pay attention and not use cellphones.

By George Diepenbrock

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