Archive for Monday, February 22, 2010

Emergency costs rise as North Lawrence construction lags

Emergency crews working in North Lawrence while nearby construction lags are proving costly. Extra crews are expected to continue their shifts into March.

Emergency crews working in North Lawrence while nearby construction lags are proving costly. Extra crews are expected to continue their shifts into March.

February 22, 2010


North Lawrence construction costing city

Multiple delays in the North Lawrence construction project are causing limited city funds to dwindle even more. Keeping emergency crews staffed in North Lawrence while construction continues is not a small expense. Enlarge video

A fifth of emergency calls in North Lawrence come during times when an extra emergency crew is on duty in the neighborhood — a service that already has cost nearly twice what had been expected as delays continue at an intersection-reconstruction project.

The rising expense is the price for public safety, said Mike Amyx, a Lawrence city commissioner.

“It’s an absolute,” Amyx said.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical spent $56,500 through the first week in February to post an extra emergency crew in the neighborhood, to ensure that the area north of the Kansas River would have access to emergency services in case of traffic backups at the intersection of North Second and Locust streets.

Back in July, when reconstruction work started, officials had planned to spend $28,637 on the extra crew — enough to provide coverage during morning and evening rush hours each weekday, until two-way traffic could return by November.

But construction is months behind schedule, pushing the department’s overtime expenses higher than expected.

“It’s getting tight,” said Mark Bradford, chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

The insurance policy has been used 24 times since Aug. 1, with emergency incidents occurring north of the river when the extra crew was on duty, according to a department report. North Lawrence had 122 total calls during the more than six months, when the entire community had 4,242 calls.


Soap 8 years, 4 months ago

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bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Mike, the backups at the detour are real, and the need for the north lawrence posting is real.

We in North Lawrence are gladthis is being done, and grateful for MikeA's support.

feeble 8 years, 4 months ago

It could be worse (aka it came from California):

Imagine having to pony up $400 for the privilege of calling 911.

somebodynew 8 years, 4 months ago

Well, if the construction is behind schedule, were there fines/costs put in the contract for that?? And if so, are we charging them for that coverage?? Seems to me like we should be.

Mike Wagner 8 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like our powers that be need some calculator training! What a joke!!!

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

There aren't any fines being assessed for the overruns in the timeline. They came across soil and drainage problems that weren't part of the original bid. Those caused the work to get pushed back and then weather hasn't allowed the work for long stretches. The city could have pushed ahead with the work as bid but then we'd be rebuilding the intersection again all too soon.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

Well, if the construction is behind schedule, were there fines/costs put in the contract for that?? And if so, are we charging them for that coverage?? Seems to me like we should be.

---also, once they got started, a structure was fund that was previously unknown apparently connected to the rail bridge or something.

here, you can't really criticize the contractor.

redfred 8 years, 4 months ago

Why are we puting an extra crew there? Why can't it be covered with an on duty crew?

gatekeeper 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm starting to get pretty peeved about all the delays. By the time I return to Lawrence in the evening (6-7pm), the crews are already gone. I don't see them working on weekends. They could be a lot farther along if they actually worked more. I know there have been weather delays, but there are lots of weekend days and evenings when the weather has been great and the crews aren't working. The residents of N. Lawrence are sick of our cars being trashed by the bad streets they refuse to repair until 2nd street is done (if they even repair them then) and the constant detour traffic (lots of trucks) running through our residential neighborhood. As usual, the residents of N. Lawrence get the shaft. I love the people in N. Lawrence, but wished I'd never moved there because the city doesn't care about the residents.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 4 months ago

It looks like the planning for the construction was too hurried--otherwise someone would have found out about that old structure in the way of present construction--and then the execution of the construction too slow--regular weekday hours for an intersection that provides the only in-town access from Downtown Lawrence over the river. In other parts of the world such construction work is around the clock, with lights attached to generators, to minimize construction time and wear on the roads. Now for the city's efforts to use ARRA money we have extended construction and roads turning into rubble, especially the west side of Second Street heading toward the bridge.

And gatekeeper is right--the truck traffic cutting through residential streets is high, as is the number of impatient drivers gunning their way through the same residential streets as they try to beat train traffic.

And gatekeeper's assessment of the city's attitude toward North Lawrence is correct--the residents had to fight to get the emergency crew stationed in the neighborhood, and the city is still planning on cutting bus service to the neighborhood. Businesses are shutting down or moving out. Is the city's goal to turn North Lawrence into a slum? Or perhaps clear it out? Then it could all turn into an industrial zone, not just the area around the ariport. Either way, the city's behavior toward North Lawrence is antiresidential.

yankeevet 8 years, 4 months ago

Why are there so many potholes in this town???

Joe Hyde 8 years, 4 months ago

I know zip about building or repairing highways -- and this section of N. 2nd Street is a U.S. highway, which means its repairs must conform to much stricter standards than an ordinary city street is held to.

So I'm only guessing, but I suspect the prolonged cold, wet winter has had almost everything to do with the delay in completing this project. Since the end of last October we've had almost unrelenting bad weather. It might not have been such a factor if not for the slope angle at the repair site, plus the 1-lane-southbound traffic constriction imposed by the underpass walls.

I haven't noticed any "great" weather this winter; we've had just two days where temperatures reached 50 degrees, when ordinarily we enjoy over 20 such days. But even good above ground conditions don't necessarily translate directly to good concrete-pouring conditions, especially at that particular site. We're just gonna have to wait until conditions are favorable for doing a correct fix.

The big problem right now is all the deep potholes in the southbound lane leading down into the underpass. These are very hard to patch because just that one lane is open; block it off for repairs and you cut off all southbound traffic. Also, N. 3rd St. is beginning to crumble under the pressure of so much detour traffic. It'll need to get fixed, too, once the N. 2nd site is finished.

Mother Nature has not been kind to this project.

asbury 8 years, 4 months ago

North Lawrence does "get the shaft" quite often, and they did indeed have to push to get this limited coverage.....

grimpeur 8 years, 4 months ago

yankeevet inquired: "Why are there so many potholes in this town???"

Too much car traffic. That's why.

KSManimal 8 years, 4 months ago

Easy solution: cut the pay of all the firefighters/EMT's. Problem solved.


ralphralph 8 years, 4 months ago

Poorly planned, woefully inadquate detour, and typical performance by the Low Bidder.

hooligan01 8 years, 4 months ago

Well how many of these emergency calls that North Lawrence has made have been time sensitive. What is an extra 3 minutes? How many house fires have there been? What a waste of money.

Danimal 8 years, 4 months ago

It's Lawrence, is anyone really surprised that a road construction project is over budget and behind schedule?

hooligan01 8 years, 4 months ago

none2 - since our neighborhood has like 1 emergency call every 2 months, sure why not. We'll probably have to anyways since they leave all the emergency vehicles on the north side on the off chance there is an emergency.

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