Archive for Saturday, August 26, 2006

KDOT may get ultimate say on Lecompton bridge project

August 26, 2006


The Kansas Department of Transportation may have to break the stalemate between Douglas and Jefferson counties about whether to close the Kansas River bridge at Lecompton when repairs are made next year.

Though the question hasn't formally been presented to KDOT, the agency has been asked by Douglas County how long it would take KDOT to decide the issue.

"If we submit it to them, we'd like them to give us an indication of some sort of timeline they would work on and when we might expect to get a response," Douglas County Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said.

Earlier this summer, Douglas County commissioners voted 2-1 to close the bridge when repairs are made. Jefferson County commissioners voted 2-1 to keep one lane open on the bridge that connects Lecompton with the Perry area. The river serves as the county line there, so both county commissions have a say in what is done with the bridge.

Since then, Johnson and Jefferson County Commissioner David Christy have met to see whether the deadlock could be broken, but so far it has held.

The bridge crossing the Kansas River at Lecompton is in need of repairs, but the Douglas and Jefferson county commissions can't agree on how the project should proceed. The ultimate decision on the project may have to come from the Kansas Department of Transportation, and it is needed soon in order for the project to be done next year.

The bridge crossing the Kansas River at Lecompton is in need of repairs, but the Douglas and Jefferson county commissions can't agree on how the project should proceed. The ultimate decision on the project may have to come from the Kansas Department of Transportation, and it is needed soon in order for the project to be done next year.

As a last resort, state statute allows the issue to be handed over to the Kansas Secretary of Transportation to decide.

Keeping the bridge open with one lane means the repair project would take at least 320 days and cost more than $4 million. Completely closing it would cut the project time to an estimated 140 days at a cost of $3.3 million, or $3.5 million with contractor incentives to get the job done more quickly.

Jefferson County Commissioners Lynn Luck and Christy say keeping the bridge open is better for safety because traffic wouldn't be routed onto long detours. They also think closing it would hurt businesses and the economy in the Perry area.

Douglas County Commissioners Charles Jones and Johnson voted to close the bridge, noting that even if Jefferson County had its way the span would need to be fully closed at least 50 or 60 days at various times during the project. Motorists would have short notice when those closings would occur. Commissioners say that could present its own safety problems.

And Douglas County contends that with adequate notice, communities and businesses could plan how to deal with the bridge's closing.

Whichever option is chosen, that decision must come soon if the bridge is to be fixed in 2007, Douglas County Engineer Keith Browning said.

"Time is certainly of the essence," he said. "If a decision is delayed too long, especially depending on which option is taken, it could affect whether we can do it next year."

The condition of the bridge decking is in poor enough shape that repairs really need to be done next year, Browning said.

If the bridge is closed, a contractor should start repairs about April 1, Browning said.

"If we keep one lane open then we'd sure like to start before then," he said. "We'd like to start around Feb. 1, if possible."


oldgoof 11 years, 9 months ago

My suggestion: just close the bridge....I mean really close it. Then the Jeff Co Commrs might pony up instead of assuming DG Co should pay the guilded price of access.

tweetybird2 11 years, 9 months ago

There are more important things in life than money. The most important is our children. People need to remember that Perry and Lecompton are in the same school district. Lecompton only has K-4. The rest are in Perry. This not only affects the school year. There are school functions in the summer also.

Kevin Sontag 11 years, 9 months ago

The thing that everyone needs to remember is that even if one lane is left open, there will still be near 60 days that the whole thing needs to close to let the concrete cure, etc. That's almost half of the 140 days the project would take if the whole thing is shut down. And these days will be announced at such short notice, some people might not find out about it until they drive up to the bridge and see the "Road Closed" sign. The fact is people are going to HAVE to detour around the bridge. Period. They WILL be inconvenienced. So just close the thing down, get it done as soon as possible, and save a half million bucks at the same time. The commisioners who vote to keep it open are only trying to do the best thing for their Lecompton and Perry constituents, and I understand that. But they need to wise up. Closing the bridge down is the best option.

tweetybird2 11 years, 9 months ago

My kids went to Lecompton schools. They always had two classes of each grade. That would be about 40 or more in each grade level just on the Lecompton side. plumberscrack needs to learn more details about the community. A few days at a time is a lot better than a long period all at once.

MWIV 11 years, 9 months ago

If I were voting, I would shut it down. Get it done! The counties can make plans for possible emergencies, ie: repositioning of emergency personnel during the construction period, etc.

tweetybird2 11 years, 9 months ago

It is not just the issue of inconvenience. It is safety and people not having the money for gas. Some kids will start going to Lawrence schools and people are already telling their kids they will not be able to participate in summer activities like softball and baseball along with many other programs. It also affects many local business we all depend on. It is our life that it affects. It is NOT just an inconvenience.

hipper_than_hip 11 years, 9 months ago

Where did the 60 days to cure the concrete come from? Concrete is generally considered fully cured after 28 days.

oldgoof 11 years, 9 months ago

tweetybird: "It is our life that it affects. It is NOT just an inconvenience"

Then let the Jeff Co. Commr's pay the fair costs associated with keeping the bridge open.

oldgoof 11 years, 9 months ago

Alternative two: Do a traffic survey of a few days. Determine DG vs JF county home residency for trip samples. Each county would pay pro-rata share of costs associated with keeping bridge open.

tweetybird2 11 years, 9 months ago

Sounds fair to me. Wish they could do it that way.

mztrendy 11 years, 9 months ago

We that live in Lecompton pay Douglas County taxes just like you in Lawrence. It shouldn't be Jefferson County that assumes all the costs. There are many many students from the Lecompton and Rural Lawrence area that this will affect. And with gas being almost 3 dollars a gallon the thought of driving around doesn't sit well with most of us here. And you all that complained the other day about 16 year olds driving realize that you are willing to put 16 year old drivers on Highway 40 twice a day to get to school and back. Which is a horrible and dangerous road to begin with.

classclown 11 years, 9 months ago

Posted by hipper_than_hip (anonymous) on August 26, 2006 at 7:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Where did the 60 days to cure the concrete come from? Concrete is generally considered fully cured after 28 days.


Actually, it takes a year for concrete to fully cure. Ever notice that you're not supposed to use salt or ice melt on a driveway that is less than a year old?

Concrete cures in stages. And sixty days is the time it takes for it to cure enough to be able to handle traffic. At least for a bridge anyway.It all depends on what its purpose is.

tweetybird2 11 years, 9 months ago

I think if they did a survey they would see that more people in Douglas County use the bridge than Jefferson.

jasonthesane 11 years, 9 months ago

Actually, concrete never "fully" cures. As long as there is available moisture concrete will continue gaining strength forever. The sixty days for cure time won't be all at once, this is a large bridge and the concrete will be presumably be placed in stages. Each stage will be required to cure for a few days (5-7 probably) without undue vibrations from traffic in the adjacent lane.

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 9 months ago

I like how the Lawrence people complain about a few bucks and don't give a crap about the safety of the kids, all I can say is typical. I used to live in Lecompton and going to Perry is the lifeline. There isn't much of a grocer in Lecompton, the gas station closes real early, and most of the services you need are in Perry. Not only will the schoolchildren be affected but the elderly that drive to Perry to bank, shop or even go see a doctor. Yeah a half a million is a lot of money but the lives of kids and elderly are priceless.
ok here is where all the Lawrence people beat me up, LOL!!!

displacedsunflower 11 years, 9 months ago

I think that I went across that bridge once many years ago. Am not from Lecompton/Perry area. Would a small ferry boat work there during the bridge closure? Would the cost for use of one be as much as, or more than, gas for detouring? The cut in time to get to the other side would be substantial.

Once, years ago, I crossed a swift, wide (wider than the Kaw) river, on a rinky-dink, flat ferry boat that held only 2 large cars or 4 really small cars. I sat and debated awhile before driving onto the thing. Was kind of scary but the trip went all right.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 9 months ago

build a new bridge first then just shut down and demo the old one. I know money is involved but it is a logical answer to the problem.

oldgoof 11 years, 9 months ago

I strongly believe in road spending and similar public improvements....But I just believe that such public money is limited and people should be able to tolerate a limited inconvenience when vast sums are being on roads and bridges for their personal benefit..... I would rather maximize general benefits to larger groups of people.

If we had six such bridges, we would only be able to repair five of them....and ONE would have to be eliminated.

It saves a considerable sum of money to close the bridge for a short period. People forget we are spending $3.3 million. You CAN NOT!! say the people in Lawrence ARE NOT supporting you and your access back and forth currently. Some would suggest traffic counts really don't support the bridge in the first place, folks.

That is why I say if the inconvenience issue is so big, that those who closely and directly benefit from the larger expenditure should pay the difference in the two construction cost alternatives.

I have the same view for other projects. Kasold should have been CLOSED for improvements instead of remaining open to one-way traffic. Quicker, cheaper. If the West Alvamar homes want access from the north and south simultaneously, they should pay for it. (have you checked out the appraisals there? I have no sympathy for them) Luckily, since it is a city project, our Jefferson county friends do not have to support our foolishness.

For these reasons, I agree with the position of the DG County Commissioners.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

If the bridge is closed at the end of May, almost half of the construction would be happening when school isn't in session, anyway, wouldn't it?

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago


When this subject first came up there was talk that some, depending on location would have to travel through Topeka and around to get to Grantville and Perry. Now that the Topeka bridge is blown up what would be the shortest route in that direction to take?

Just a thought.

jasonthesane 11 years, 9 months ago

The Topeka Blvd bridge is not the next closest crossing to the West. K-4 crosses the Kaw on the East side of Topeka.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

Bridge closed- April 1

One lane bridge- Feb 1

So it would effect the 2006-2007 & the 2007-2008 school years.

P.S. I live on the Jeff. Co. side of the District.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

"So it would effect the 2006-2007 & the 2007-2008 school years."

140 days from April 1 is August 19, so it would have very minimal effect on 2007-2008.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

It depend's on when the first day of shcool is. This year is started Aug. 18 for Perry.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

With some of the savings gained from full closure, why not hire one of those 30-passenger helicopters to ferry the kids across the river and back for a couple of months? They'd love it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

"It depend's on when the first day of shcool is. This year is started Aug. 18 for Perry."

I'd say one day is pretty minimal effect.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

When have you every seen construction of anything being done in the time they say it will be done? ;)

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

Atouk I agree, but it might raise the price tag a little and then there will still be negativity about the cost.

Cheeper isn't always better.

another_concerned_parent 11 years, 9 months ago

One thing that the residents of Lecompton have to be concerned with is, do we really want our children to transfer into Lawrence schools for one year and have USD 343 lose the funding for those transferred students in the future? Our school board has agreed to disagree and not take a stand on this bridge closure. What does that tell our children? And I hope that the board members are ready to be ousted when their terms expire.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

  1. Does Lawrence even have room for all those students? Your looking at about 80 (give or take) students per grade 5-12.

  2. Will Lawrence waive the out of district tution for Lecompton?

  3. Since some don't like the idea of teens driving, is LaidLaw going to charge the Lecompton rider's? (right now USD 343 bus ride is free no matter were you live in the district) Parents driving the kids won't work because most of them are at work or on there way to work before the kids are even up.

another_concerned_parent 11 years, 9 months ago

USD 497 probably does not have the room, but if they want the money bad enough for out of district tution and the pay to play, I am sure they will find the room. How many of USD 343 teachers use the bridge to get to work as well? I am sure they are not looking forawrd to the detours either. Even if they close the bridge in April that is still 6 weeks before school is out. The only bus riders that USD 497 charge to ride are the Jr & elem students. High schoolers do not have any bus service.

jasonthesane 11 years, 9 months ago

How about a temporary pedestrian walkway across the river? School buses could pick up and drop off on either side. This could be attached to the sides of the existing bridge structure.

Just a random thought.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

The kids are going to be the ones who gets the biggest raw-end of the deal. In Perry the teachers know at least the first name if not also the last name of every student they see in their building and for many years after. From my very breef time in Lawrence the teacher had a difficult time with just remembering the first name.

another_concerned_parent 11 years, 9 months ago

SOme kids already get on the bus before 7 am, if there is a detour that adds another 30 - 45 mintues, how are those kis going to do in school once they get there. Isn't there a law on how long kids can be a school bus for one way?

Yes, redneckwoman, in Lawrence you are basically a number. I graduated with over 500 in my class from LHS and unless you are an athlete or a trouble maker or the sibling of one the forementioned, they do not know who you are.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

Not a bad idea jasonthesane. That is actually what they did when they were building the bridge in the first place, except it was the original wood one lane bridge there before the new bridge.

I'm most likly going to get heck for this, but my mother was the majorette in the marching band during the dedication ceramony when the bridge opened up.

another_concerned_parent 11 years, 9 months ago

That is a good idea, jasonthesane, but what about when there are sporting events, will everyone park at the Lane Museum and hoof it down to the river or park at the boat ramp on the other side? I believe that the PLHS Lady Kaws softball team starting playing in Lecompton as early as mid-March. And then we have the Lecompton Ball Assn, that if the bridge closes that will effect over 150 kids that play either baseball or softball in Lecompton and the other towns to the north that travel to Lecompton to play.

redneckwoman 11 years, 9 months ago

Instead of making the walking bridge temporary make it permanent. I'm sure many would use it even after the bridge is done, especialy the bicyclist's that seem to like to take that route. Plus that way to some it won't seem like a waist of $$$.

jasonthesane 11 years, 9 months ago

So we make temporary parking areas on both sides of the river. For games and other events that draw a lot of people some sort of shuttle could be put in place from these parking areas to the field or event location.

mztrendy 11 years, 8 months ago

plumberscrack, are you helping with the bridge construction? Just wondering since you said so "we" can get it done quicker. Are you wanting it closed completely so you don't have to work on it any longer than necessary? Also, how many times a week do you cross the bridge?

Angie Dick 11 years, 8 months ago

I am a Perry resident.. If you ask me, They need to keep one lane open while fixing the bridge.. If they closed it completely, They would have to reroute the buses from Lecompton, threw Topeka or Lawrence in order to get the children back and forth to school.. Half the children in the Perry/Lecompton school district are from Lecompton.. Besides that, what if your child fell ill at school, it would take you almost an hour to get them.. I don't think the school system would like that nor do I think I'd like it myself.. So it may cost us tax payers a few extra dollars but it is gonna cost us anyway's.. We will pay one way or another.. Then you can think about what if there was an emergency in Lecompton, Jefferson county would have to reroute as well or how about a loved one needing an ambulance, They would have to come from Lawerence or Topeka, How long does that take??? So if you think about it, it would help the Lecompton and Perry community, If they left one lane open..

mztrendy 11 years, 8 months ago

Well its probably easy to have an opinion on the bridge closing when it really doesn't affect your daily life. I do live in Lecompton, which is DG county. I pay DG county taxes just the same as you do. Which pays for lots of things that don't affect my daily rountine/life etc. But I don't bitch about it, because its obviously affecting other DG country residents.

jafs 11 years, 8 months ago

Having lived in Lecompton for about 7 years, I second the thoughts of those who find closing the bridge would be extremely inconvenient for folks living in that area. Also, when we lived there, we payed both Douglas and Jefferson county taxes, and for a variety of things which didn't directly benefit us. The idea that we should pay taxes only for items which benefit us directly is appealing but misguided. Would that mean that single people, couples without children, or gay people who would never become parents not pay for public schools? The idea, flawed as it is, is that taxes are paid and used for items which are understood to be in the "common" good. Roads benefit drivers more than non-drivers, schools benefit those with children more than those without, etc. In our Constitution, one of the guiding principles is to "promote the general welfare". Perhaps we should, as a nation, become more concerned with the "common" good, the good of all citizens, or the "general welfare".

conservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Of course the item that everyone in favor of keeping the bridge open likes to keep forgetting is that the number of school days the bridge would be closed is virtually the same in either case since they will still need to close the bridge to all traffic for I think the number was 33 school days, as opposed to 40 in the other scenario. So they want to spend an extra 700,000 dollars for 7 days. Not to mention that there is concern that the seam that would be caused by pouring each side of the bridge would make the bridge not as structurally sound and would therefore require repairs sooner in the future.

This information comes directly from one of the douglas county commissioners who was kind enough to post on one of the articles a few months back.

estespark 11 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Friend73 - in the interest of Public Safety one lane will most likely stay open.

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