Editorial: Overly proud

City officials shouldn’t be too proud of completing street repairs made necessary by substandard construction in the past.

August 28, 2013


The reconstruction of Bob Billings Parkway from Kasold Drive to Iowa Street was finished over the weekend, with motorists finding the four-lane roadway’s lanes reopened to traffic at last.

At last, another piece of the city’s ongoing road rebuilding is completed. Work continues at the intersection of Iowa Street and the parkway, and there’s a long way to go north of that intersection before street widening work is finished.

At the parkway and Wakarusa, construction is continuing to the north.

Although other bits of the improvements along this major arterial remain, the city’s drivers certainly must be relieved, and pleased, that the project from Kasold Drive east is finished.

Nevertheless, the electric signs that greeted drivers Saturday morning may need a bit of tempering. They flashed: “Thank You.” And “Progress as Promised.”

That seems a bit too self-congratulatory.

Let’s remember that this street has been resurfaced, patched and rebuilt continually since its installation. The work just completed was financed by a special sales tax intended to remediate poor construction specifications that led to early, and continued, deterioration of this and other streets throughout the community.

The signs should have read: “Thank You.” “You more than paid for it.”

There should be a lesson here for elected city officials and officeholders in City Hall. The lesson is that somebody with expertise should be examining, very critically, the specifications for all city infrastructure projects so that taxpayers don’t get stuck with shoddy work that needs to be replaced before the bonds that finance it are paid for and before its expected useful life is fulfilled.

Yes, it’s nice to have this particular element of the city’s ongoing street and road construction finished. Let’s hope the fundamentals are not lost on city officials – some of whom were on board when the problem was created. Let’s hope these issues are not being replicated in new projects, such as the Rock Chalk Park. Let’s hope also that we’re not overcompensating in current and future projects for the unfortunate oversights of the past.

“Progress?” “As Promised?” Hello, City Hall!


Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 8 months ago

This editorial is excellent.

It is especially important that, as the writer says, Rock Chalk Park is not another example of this of kind of shoddy work.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 8 months ago

"Substandard Construction in the Past" is not the sole responsibility of city hall. Our elected officials wanted to spend less, and so did the voters. There were years the city commission actually decreased taxes rather than invest in infrastructure.

I agree with the editor and Wilbur. Using our tax money to repair substandard construction is taking money away from streets and curbs that haven't been repaired for decades. I don't doubt the repairs are necessary. Next time voters want to do something on the cheap, they should be reminded of the consequences.

hipper_than_hip 4 years, 8 months ago

You can have the tightest construction specs in the world but without the knowledge or will to enforce the specs you will get what the contactor decides to give you. The City has defunded the construction inspection department, and instead of employing full-time experienced inspectors, the City relies on summer interns from the KU to manage their projects. Pitting inexperienced college kids against hardnosed construction superintendents is a recipe for disaster, and the residents of Lawrence will continue to pay for crappy infrastructure until the City changes their position.

George Lippencott 4 years, 8 months ago

Are we being a bit too harsh here? Our law givers seem to be trying to do better. Remember the current crop of players are not the ones around when the original roads were built.

We need also remember that the rapid growth of the city contributed to the situation. Smaller towns with less population do not need roads to the specifications that a larger more populated town does.(road use).

Now with respect to Rock Chalk Park it is not clear who is driving what set of construction standards. Is the city responsible and if so for what. We have mixed private, charitable, university, and city resources so it is not clear who is driving what part of the construction?? This is the danger of private/public cooperative ventures. We may just not be sophisticated enough to avoid the downside.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 8 months ago

Highway 10 and Clinton Parkway were completed in the early 1980's. The SLT was voted on in about 1985 because of the traffic on 23rd. Street. Both Kasold and Wakarusa were planned to be thoroughfares. But how many times has Kasold been redone in its short life? I do agree that we should look at the situation objectively rather that finding someone to blame. Thank you for toning down the rhetoric.

Trumbull 4 years, 8 months ago

I do like the concrete bike path(s) added to 15th (between Iowa and Kasold). Bike riders and walkers will be able to enjoy this and take advantage of this for many years to come.

But why were all of the other repairs done with asphalt? Two years from now, we will be making the same exact repair. Why does Lawrence not start to phase in concrete? Concrete is way more durable and can last 100 years (+).

Commenting has been disabled for this item.