Douglas County commissioners are willing to go ahead and close the Lecompton bridge for repairs next year without Jefferson County's help in paying for the cost, if necessary.
Although no formal decision was made during Wednesday night's Douglas County Commission meeting, those were the intentions expressed by Commissioners Bob Johnson and Charles Jones.
"If they are not agreeable to that, then I think we should go forward," Johnson said.
Johnson, however, said he wanted to talk with Jefferson County Commissioner David Christy again about the matter before a formal decision is made. Johnson and Christy have talked previously about the bridge impasse, but no compromise has been found.
Douglas County Engineer Keith Browning recently asked the Kansas Department of Transportation how long it would take for that department to study and decide the bridge closure issue and was told it would take up to 60 days.
That could cause delays in scheduling repair work in time to be started next year. If the project does not start next year, temporary repairs would have to be made because of the deteriorating condition of the bridge, Browning said.
Earlier this summer, Johnson and Jones voted to close the bridge for repairs while Jefferson County Commissioners Christy and Lynn Luck voted to keep one lane open.
Even if the two counties do share the cost of the repairs, Douglas County would still be paying nearly 90 percent of the cost. If the bridge is closed, the total cost could be as high as $3.5 million.
Johnson said he hoped a formal decision about the bridge can be made next week. He said he had no reason to believe Jefferson County wouldn't go ahead and help pay for the project.
On an unrelated matter, Douglas County commissioners approved an agreement with the city of Lawrence that outlines city-county responsibilities for constructing sewer improvements in benefit districts south of Kansas Highway 10 and east of East 1600 Road.