A troublesome North Lawrence intersection, the old Carnegie Library building and the Lawrence Municipal Airport may be in the best position to receive quick doses of money from any future federal stimulus package.
Lawrence City Hall leaders have put together a list of $280 million worth of projects that they believe could be eligible for a federal stimulus program, but just four projects are far enough along that construction could begin within 30 days.
“Nobody really knows what may be coming, but what we’re hearing is that something will come down the pike,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works. “I can tell you that we’re trying real hard to position ourselves to take full advantage of any opportunities.”
The biggest project that the city has ready to go is a rebuilding of the North Second and Locust Street intersection in North Lawrence, which has suffered from a bad hump that has caused accidents in the past.
The city already has committed to do the project but had delayed it while work was occurring on two Kansas River bridges on the Kansas Turnpike. But if the federal government were to provide the $3 million to fully fund the project, the city could get started quickly, city leaders said.
“I think it is extremely important that we be ready on that,” City Commissioner Mike Amyx said. “That would free up money that could go a long way somewhere else in the city.”
The story is much the same with the Carnegie Library building at Ninth and Vermont. Plans are completed for a $1.4 million expansion that would make the vacant building handicapped-accessible. Commissioners at one point had committed to do the project, but then backed out after budget problems hit City Hall. The expansion would allow the building to be used again — with commissioners expressing interest in using it for a reception hall run by Parks and Recreation, and office space for the new National Heritage area that promotes the city’s Civil War history.
Two projects at the Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Lawrence also are ready to go: a $450,000 extension of a taxiway and $750,000 worth of site improvements to provide access to a new hangar site.
But the really big prizes may come if the stimulus package considers projects that could be ready by the end of the year. The city has several projects that could make that list because they’ve been planning for such projects as part of the city’s new infrastructure sales tax.
Those projects include:
• $6.6 million to rebuild Kasold Drive from Clinton Parkway to 31st Street.
• $3 million to rebuild Wakarusa Drive from Bob Billings Parkway to 18th Street.
• $3.9 million to rebuild Iowa Street from Iowa Street to Naismith Drive.
• $3 million to add coordinated traffic signals on Sixth, Iowa and several other streets.
Soules said the city would welcome the federal funding because that would allow the sales taxes to be used on other street projects.
“We absolutely could find new projects to spend the sales tax on,” Soules said.