After some disagreement over budget projections, the Douglas County Public Works Department will go forward with plans to straighten two curves on Route 442 next year.
The proposed changes are near the Shawnee County line, and the full project would add shoulders and complete improvements from the county line to Stull. The estimated $4 million project is in the year’s capital improvement planning budget for the county. It would make the curves, the first of which is about a half-mile from the county line, into 55-mile-per-hour curves.
Keith Browning, director of public works, told the County Commission on Wednesday that the curve improvements were needed because of their high crash rates.
Commissioner Jim Flory expressed support for the project as a better alternative than the required basic upkeep, which could cost $250,000 per mile and would postpone “fixing the dangerous curves” for several years. Commissioner Nancy Thellman praised the staff’s planning ability but said that it wouldn’t be wise to plan for this project without knowing more about others and their priorities.
“I’m not sure we are wise to continue when we don’t know how wacky state cuts may be next year,” she said.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug, who does not vote on decisions, said that the upcoming year’s budget represented “a new paradigm” and that funds would be very limited.
With the support of Commissioner Mike Gaughan, however, Browning’s proposal will continue into the planning phase.
The commission also approved by unanimous vote a new map of roads affected by the forthcoming South Lawrence Trafficway. After its completion, North 1250 Road will be shortened and a cul-de-sac will be added in front of the proposed Baker Wetlands visitors center.