Motorists and residents on portions of Iowa Street should begin preparing for a major water-line replacement project that will slow traffic and scar yards.
Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting approved a contract to begin design work for a project to replace a 1952 waterline along Iowa Street between Ninth Street and University Drive.
“It will be a pretty significant project,” said Philip Ciesielski, assistant director of utilities for the city.
But unlike the major water-line projects that tore up Massachusetts Street downtown, the water line along Iowa is not actually in the street. Instead, it runs through the yards of many homes on the eastern side of Iowa.
Ciesielski said the city will be meeting with homeowners in the area before the project is expected to begin in September.
Having the water line located outside the street will help with traffic control. Ciesielski said that, at a minimum, Iowa Street would be open to one lane of traffic in each direction throughout the project, which could take until late fall to complete.
Ciesielski said engineers would look for ways to have the road more fully open on Kansas University home football weekends.
“We understand that is something we’re going to have to try to work around,” Ciesielski said.
Engineers told commissioners that crews had responded to water-line breaks in the area two times this year, and about six times in the last five years. An analysis of the soil found that it was corrosive to the cast iron pipe. The new pipe will be wrapped with a plastic-like material that wasn’t available in 1952.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to be fixing these lines,” Commissioner Lance Johnson said. “It’s better for us to fix them proactively rather than always getting called in to fix leaks.”
While crews are in the area, they also will replace water lines along University from Iowa to Engel Road, on Orchard Lane from Iowa to Centennial Drive, on Yale Road from Iowa to Westdale Road, and on the portion of Westdale south of Yale.
The entire project is expected to cost about $1.5 million.
Commissioners also approved details of two other major construction projects:
• A nearly $442,000 contract with Bartlett & West to design improvements to Kasold Drive from Clinton Parkway to 31st Street.
The project will be a major rebuilding of the road, said Chuck Soules, director of Public Works. He said engineers will look at reducing the width of the four traffic lanes on the road by about 1 foot each so that a left-turn lane could be added to parts of the road.
The existing sidewalk and recreation paths along the road are expected to remain in place.
A larger challenge with the project is how residents who live off the section of Kasold will be able to use the road during the construction project.
Commissioners directed engineers to look at options that would leave the road partially open during the project, but also wanted to look at a section where it would be closed to all traffic other than those homeowners who had no other way to get back to their properties.
The project potentially could begin construction next spring and be completed by October. The rebuilding is expected to cost about $5.5 million, and will be funded with the city’s new infrastructure sales tax.
• Approval of $90,000 in public funds for road and sidewalk work near the Oread hotel project.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to spend public money to improve streets and sidewalks near 11th and Indiana Streets. The improvements were not required as part of the Oread project, but the developers of the hotel agreed to contribute about $310,000 so that the projects could be completed before the hotel opened.
In addition to the road work, the city agreed to spend $44,000 in city money for a sewer project near the intersection. All the roads in the area are expected to be open before Kansas University begins classes in August.