A study for road improvements.
A new public works building.
These were among the major capital improvement projects discussed Monday by Douglas County commissioners.
The county has more than $4.4 million in its capital improvement fund this year. Most of it will go toward addressing a list of road and bridge projects. But there are many other needs that should be addressed during the next few years, county leaders said.
During the past few years, the county has budgeted 4 mills for capital improvements; a mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Commissioner Jere McElhaney said it may be necessary to increase the number of mills set aside each year for improvements.
Commissioners agreed that a strategic study on roads and bridges should be atop their list.
"I do think we are going to need to address some strategic issues in the long run, and I'm not sure we're positioning ourselves for that," Commissioner Charles Jones said.
Jones emphasized the need for knowing what major road and bridge improvements need to be made on a priority basis during the next five to 10 years.
A study that would identify a main east-west road to carry traffic south of the Wakarusa River is especially needed, Jones said.
That study could cost $200,000 to $250,000, said Keith Browning, county engineer and public works director.
Such a route eventually would be annexed into Lawrence. Commissioners have talked about a route study before, and the city had been asked to help pay for it. Although the city balked at helping with the study, commissioners said city officials should be asked again.
"It seems to me that before we go out and spend money for a study that has to do with the growth of the city of Lawrence, we need to have the city involved," Commissioner Bob Johnson said. "It doesn't have to be 50-50. If we have to pay a disproportionate amount for the study, it will be money well spent."
Commissioners also said they were interested in funding signs, lighting and kitchen improvements at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
County leaders also are considering building a new public works facility and finding a centralized location for it. They discussed constructing a new building to temporarily house public works administration offices on the grounds of the Douglas County Jail until a new facility, where all public works entities can be on one site, is built. Currently, public works offices are at 1242 Mass. in an old church building, and public works operations are based at 711 E. 23rd St. The new building at the jail could eventually be turned over for jail use.
Commissioners will continue capital improvement discussions at a future meeting.
Among other business, commissioners:
¢ Approved a site plan for a 17,157-square-foot industrial building north of Maple Grove Cemetery along the east side of U.S. Highway 24-59. The building will be used by Pioneer Seed Co. The building will be leased to Hydra Seed Co.
¢ Approved a low bid of more than $1.28 million from R.D. Johnson Construction Co. for construction of sanitary sewer lines for southeast Lawrence sanitary sewer benefit districts 1, 2 and 3.
¢ Approved a low bid of $909,300 and an alternative bid of $21,000 from Midland Contractors for lift station construction for the southeast Lawrence sanitary sewer benefit district No. 1.