Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2010

Douglas County Commission unanimously approves improvement plan for roads, bridges

December 9, 2010

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North 1800 and East 1000

The Douglas County Commission unanimously approved its five-year capital improvements plan at Wednesday’s meeting.

The CIP allocates a total of $15,707,069 over a five-year period for upgrading, upkeep and construction of county buildings, bridges and roads.

“It’s very dynamic,” Assistant County Administrator Pam Madl said. “It’s not intended to be a static plan. Sometimes we’ll add new projects, sometimes we take projects off, sometimes our cost estimate is either high or low, and that changes how much money we’ll have.”

Madl and County Public Works Director Keith Browning collaborated on the plan, which projects a $4 million county budget for 2011, and a $4.4 million budget for the subsequent four years.

In 2011, nearly 63 percent of the CIP will go to road construction and maintenance, while 31 percent is allocated for bridge support. The remainder is for miscellaneous projects.

The road and bridge projects on the CIP are at various stages of construction.

One project on the CIP slated for construction in 2011 is 31st Street, stretching from East 1400 Road to East 1500 Road. The project is expected to cost $575,000.

“That road really does need some attention,” Browning said. “I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot of patching out there, maintenance patching, just to keep it going.”

The CIP proposes a 2-inch overlay and a significant patch job on the area. In the past the county has sustained the cost of this location, though the city is technically responsible for half the cost.

The CIP does not approve any road or bridge projects. It simply plans how funds should be allocated. Sometimes a road or a bridge will deteriorate faster than expected, particularly after a bad winter. When this happens, county commissioners can re-examine the CIP, and redirect funds. The county typically pays for all projects in cash. And though the county has $15 million in reserve, all of it is currently committed to specific projects.

“My goal when I do this is to try to make sure we have all the cash available the year before construction,” Madl said. “It’s a dynamic document. It will change during the year, but typically it doesn’t change significantly.”

In other action, the commission took its official vote on the annexation of 51 acres of land west of Lawrence. As they indicated last week, Commissioners Jim Flory and Mike Gaughan voted in favor of the request, and Commission Chairwoman Nancy Thellman voted against it.

The land is at the southwest corner of North 1800 Road (Farmers Turnpike) and East 1000 Road. Because the tract is not adjacent to the city, it is an island annexation, which requires county approval before the City Commission can move forward to approve or deny annexation.

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