After multiple years of planning, construction is set to begin early next month on a new east Lawrence trail that will run from 11th Street all the way to 23rd Street.
City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting unanimously accepted bids for the long-talked-about Burroughs Creek Rail Trail after the project came in about $300,000 less than engineers had estimated.
“They were very good bids,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works. “There are not a whole lot of projects out there right now, and it came at a time of year when contractors are wondering what they’re going to be doing for the next few months.”
Lawrence-based R.D. Johnson Excavating was awarded the contract for $591,632. About 60 percent of the project will be paid for through a state transportation grant. The city will pay the remaining 40 percent using sales tax money approved by voters in April.
The project will include a 10-foot-wide trail from 11th to 23rd streets, following an old railroad route that is just west of Haskell Avenue. The project also will include pedestrian-activated crossing lights at 11th and 19th streets, a raised crosswalk at 15th Street, a speed hump at 13th Street, and a pedestrian bridge that will be installed over Burroughs Creek to connect the trail with Parnell Park.
“We really think this whole project is going to tie the neighborhoods together,” said Mark Hecker, the superintendent of parks and maintenance for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. “It is the type of project that should allow people to interact with each other, make connections.”
With the lower than expected construction costs, the project may end up growing in size. The trail qualified for up to $500,000 in state transportation funding or 60 percent of the project costs — whichever was less.
City Manager David Corliss said the city will look for ways to do other parts of the project that have been planned but were thought to be too expensive to do now. Those include the idea of paving the existing trail south of 23rd Street, which currently is a soft-surface trail. Other options including building new feeder trails that will shoot off from the new Burroughs Creek Trail and into nearby parks such as Hobbs Park at 11th and Delaware and the city park at 19th and Haskell.
Construction on the main trail is expected to begin by the first week of October. Work likely will stretch into January, Soules said.