Given nearly $53 million, the city of Lawrence could tackle a long line of major transportation construction projects — and that’s only for the ones that could be under contract within a year.
But now that a federal stimulus bill is poised to pump an estimated $80 million into such projects for communities statewide, officials at City Hall aren’t getting greedy.
They’re focusing on priorities instead, and topping their list are projects that would begin rebuilding existing streets within a year — instead of waiting for as long as a decade to get the work going.
First priority: $6.6 million to rebuild Kasold Drive, from Clinton Parkway to 31st Street. Next come another three reconstruction projects, all tentatively lined up to be financed by revenues from a citywide sales tax approved by voters in November.
Using stimulus money instead could get those jobs done faster, City Manager David Corliss said, and therefore free up money for other reconstruction projects during the coming decade.
“We want our top-priority projects to be first in line,” Corliss said.
On Thursday, lists of recommended projects from both the city and Douglas County will be reviewed to ensure that they comply with planning guidelines, a prerequisite for qualifying for federal stimulus funds. The meeting of the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization is set for 4 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
The meeting also is scheduled to include an update from the Kansas Department of Transportation about how the stimulus bill, scheduled to be signed into law today by President Barack Obama, would be expected to address local needs.
Douglas County officials, for example, have compiled a list of $13.2 million in transportation projects that could use money from the stimulus program. Atop the county’s list is rebuilding a 2.3-mile stretch of the Farmers Turnpike, from the South Lawrence Trafficway west to County Road 1029, which heads north to Lecompton.
The estimated $2.6 million project — to widen lanes, add paved shoulders and improve sight lines for traffic — is “as ‘shovel ready’ as any project could be,” County Engineer Keith Browning has said.