Several capital improvement projects will be undertaken by Douglas County this year.
Douglas County commissioners gave a green light to about $1.7 million in bridge and pavement projects Monday.
Two of the projects will be completed this year. Construction on the second phase of the South Lawrence Trafficway pedestrian-bicycle trail is expected to start this summer.
That $737,538 project will build the 4.5 miles of trail from Clinton Parkway to North 1750 Road. Through a match program, the county will contribute no more than $79,000 of the cost.
Commissioners approved the project despite being asked by Lawrence resident Allan Wilkinson to rethink the concept of bringing bicyclists and pedestrians together. Wilkinson said public safety is better served when bicyclists can ride on roadways that have wide shoulders.
``So-called bicycle-pedestrian paths represent a two-and-a-half-times risk to both pedestrians and bicyclists as opposed to riding on the roadways,'' Wilkinson said. ``Bicycles are quiet. Pedestrians don't hear them coming and they step routinely into their path and collisions happen.''
John Pasley, the county's trafficway project manager, said the trail's designers were aware of the potential for collisions.
``There's some truth to that,'' Pasley said. ``That's why you build them 10 feet wide'' instead of 6 feet wide like the pedestrian-bike paths along Clinton Parkway.
The path also runs from Clinton Parkway to U.S. Highway 59. That phase of the project was undertaken last year.
A second project commissioners approved for 1997 involves $208,438 in resurfacing and repairs to the parking lots, sidewalks and stairways near the Douglas County Courthouse and Judicial & Law Enforcement Center.
Commissioners also agreed Monday to launch a rehabilitation and resurfacing project for the 2.5-mile stretch of County Road 1029 that runs between U.S. Highway 40 and Lecompton. The project won't be completed for another four to five years, said County Engineer Frank Hempen.
For now, commissioners authorized the expenditure of $42,818 for such preliminary activities as right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation. Eventually, the county will pay 20 percent of actual construction costs on the project, which are expected to be between $500,000 and $750,000.
``Traffic counts are escalating on that section of the roadway and it is relatively unsafe,'' Hempen told commissioners.
Commissioners delayed a decision to set in motion the replacement of the Captain Creek Bridge on County Road 442, also known as Old Highway 10, east of Eudora and half a mile west of the Johnson County line. Two new commissioners, Dean Nieder and Tom Taul, said they wanted to view the bridge before voting on the project.
Initially, the county would fund $53,477 in preliminary activities and eventually pay 20 percent of construction costs, which are estimated to be about $500,000.