To the editor:
I noted in the front page Journal-World Oct. 28 story by reporter Mark Fagan that the 23rd Street bridge between Haskell and Barker is to be replaced. The project is estimated to take six months and will provide a bridge for five lanes of 23rd Street traffic. The scope of the project surprised me in this era of governmental austerity. My concern is that all viable options be explored before contracting the project.
The original purpose of the existing bridge was to provide a viaduct or overpass over the Santa Fe trackage between Lawrence and Ottawa. The hump or elevated roadway over the railway was common practice at the time.
The trackage is now gone and the new bridge will mainly allow passage of the walking trail to keep the south half-mile or so of it from being isolated. This could be nicely accommodated by an 8-foot square reinforced concrete culvert at much less construction cost. If the usage of the existing street which passes under 23rd is sufficient to justify continuing it, that could be done with two 12-foot square culverts. No matter what plan is used, there is some surface drainage (storm runoff), which must be managed. Use of the culverts would eliminate most of the hump in 23rd Street, shorten construction traffic inconveniences and probably lower costs.