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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Bids for South Lawrence Trafficway come in low; work may begin by mid-October

September 18, 2013, 3:43 p.m. Updated September 18, 2013, 7:00 p.m.

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After more than 2 decades of deadends and delays the construction on the remaining portion of the South Lawrence Trafficway will begin this fall. The red barriers marked the east end of the SLT at the 'bridge to nowhere' over South Iowa.

After more than 2 decades of deadends and delays the construction on the remaining portion of the South Lawrence Trafficway will begin this fall. The red barriers marked the east end of the SLT at the 'bridge to nowhere' over South Iowa.

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South Lawrence Trafficway ( .PDF )

A batch of low bids has the South Lawrence Trafficway on track to be completed by late 2016, and the company set to complete it is a Columbia, Mo.-based construction firm.

The bypass project, which has been in various stages of development and legal disputes for more than 25 years, cleared another major hurdle Wednesday as construction bids came in well below estimates.

“They didn’t blow the budget, that’s for sure,” said Jonathan Marburger, project manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Columbia-based Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. was the apparent low bidder at $129.8 million. Engineers had estimated a construction cost of $150 million for the final leg of the trafficway, which will run from Iowa Street to Kansas Highway 10 on the eastern edge of Lawrence.

KDOT officials will spend about a week reviewing the bids before awarding a construction contract for the project. Assuming the Emery Sapp & Sons bid checks out, the state is likely to issue a notice to proceed with the project by mid-October, Marburger said. He said he expects significant work will start taking place before the end of the year.

“If anything, it could start filling in portions of the wetlands before the end of the year,” Marburger said, referring to work in the Baker Wetlands. That work is being done under a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which comes with a timeline for the work to be completed.

Six companies submitted bids, with prices ranging from Emery Sapp & Sons’ low bid to a high of $155.9 million. Hamm Inc. in nearby Perry bid the project, but finished a distant third with a $137.5 million bid.

As the winner of the SLT bid, Emery Sapp & Sons also will build the extension of 31st Street from Haskell Avenue to O’Connell Road. Emery Sapp & Sons bid $3.9 million, the lowest of the six bids submitted. The two projects are being built together to gain efficiencies.

An official with Emery Sapp & Sons didn’t return a call Wednesday afternoon. Marburger said it wasn’t known how many jobs the construction project may add to the area, but he said it would be significant. He said it is the second largest road project in the state currently, trailing only a major bypass project in Johnson County.

“There will be a lot of workers staying in local hotels, eating local food, buying local products,” Marburger said. “There will be a definite spill over for the local economy.”

Once completed, the new six-mile section of trafficway will connect to the already-completed western portion of the roadway, which currently dead-ends at Iowa Street in south Lawrence. The completed bypass will carry traffic from Interstate 70, the Kansas Turnpike, west of Lawrence to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, allowing thru traffic to avoid 23rd Street and other city streets.

Construction on the project has been halted since the mid-1990s when the western portion of the road was completed. Lawsuits filed by environmental groups, the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation and other organizations created a series of legal battles over the environmental damage the road’s route through the Baker Wetlands would create and also on the impact to the cultural and historical significance the wetlands have for Native Americans and other groups.

But the legal challenges ended after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2012 issued a ruling that cleared the way for the project, and the environmental mitigation efforts, which include building about 300 acres of man-made wetlands to replace the approximately 55 acres of wetlands that will be taken for the project.

Comments

IdahoWinds 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Tuschie - if you had paid attention to the conversation here you would know that each contractor, whether they are from Colombia or Perry or Lawrence, all have to meet the same specs that KDOT puts out. The engineer that Prairie Band hired was from TX and used TX DOT specs which are entirely different that KDOT. His road design was like comparing apples and oranges. For David Prager to claim that they were comparable was an indication of his lack of understanding of the situation. Besides, that argument was never going to be strong enough to reverse the court ruling. He should have tried a different tact.

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Steven Gaudreau 7 months ago

I hope the bid does not contain a bunch of loopholes where unexpected costs get passed on to the city. I also hope there will be deadlines with penalty as well as early completion bonuses. I know this sounds like basic contract clauses but after the rec center swindle, I'm not sure how competent our city is with contracts.

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Michelle Reynolds 7 months ago

Give up on the JE Dunn stuff. They build buildings not roads and bridges

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

the manipulation of this whole process between north and south of the river is laughable. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation funded a side by side study a couple of years ago of north and south of the river roads. This process is rigged like the old days of Kansas when the railroads and the state governments intimidated and low balled Indian tribes for reservations so badly that the Indian Claims Commission was enacted in the 1940's to address the wrongs of the past.

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Greg DiVilbiss 7 months ago

I would love to know the economic impact of picking a local company vs an out of town firm.

They will have people staying in hotels, dining in restaurants where local workers would be staying at home and eating meals. At the end of the day the pay and dollars would be siphoned out of Lawrence and straight over to Columbia.

I would think (but do not know) that having a local company do the work would have a more significant economic benefit to the community thereby offsetting some of the cost disparity.

So, it would seem to me there should be some factor that gives a local company an edge over out of towners. I would think this would be true whether you are talking office supplies, printing, or major construction.

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SouthernMan 7 months ago

Sapp has a Columbia, MO address and only a handful of employees there. That's where the old man who founded the company lived. The big office is in downtown KCMO. Last I knew, J.E. Dunn builds big buildings. Not highways.

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geekin_topekan 7 months ago

Sounds like a good area to bring the lunch cart. $$$$.

I am sure that Haskell could, if they wanted to, find a way to capitalize on this thing but they'd better do it quick cuz they are sitting on PRIME real estate and don't think for one second that developers aren't stroking their pens over how to get at this land.

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Scott Morgan 7 months ago

Dept. of Trans put out an offer to bid. Under this offer, compliance to specifications is a must. Huge penalties for not doing so.

I've lost and won bids due to tiny sometimes meaningless specifications.

In short, whomever won the bid is expected to complete the project to the high specs of the bid. Shorter........you should see no difference in the finished project no matter who built it.

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Onatop 7 months ago

In reference to JE Dunn - different contractors construct/build different types of work in commercial , municipal , DOT areas of work. I never heard of or seen JE Dunn bid or build a highway related project - maybe they have. Yes I have heard many positive comments about their work. A construction company has to be on a State DOT approved bidder list , be able to bond the project they are bidding on ( based on net worth, assests, liabilities, etc. ) This happens through out the nation - out of state contractors bid and are low bidder on projects in other states. I guess this is call competitive bidding - or the free enterprise system in America. Today most of the construction work forces in management, supervisory in the field are NOT high school graduates - most has higher education degrees. Even alot of the field work forces , material suppliers are higher educated than high school.

On a closing note - I have talked to several life long residents of Lawrence - in their golden years - all state that most of the wetlands were farmed at one time - prior to the concept of the SLT project - most of the present wetlands are man made.

In time this project will be completed - all will enjoy the commute and then there will be another topic to express ones opinions about.

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BigAl 7 months ago

This brings to mind the John Ruskin quote: "There is hardly anything in the world that someone can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper – and people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey”.

The low bid is not always the best bid. Just sayin'

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kansas_cynic 7 months ago

Just think how much taxpayer money would have been saved by building the road when originally approved by voters. Look at the years of delay and cost increases for no reason, just some un-proven beliefs and fairy tales.

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bear1956 7 months ago

State law requires that the lowest qualified bidder be awarded the contract. The best system would be one that used a combination of cost and quality of work to chose a contractor. That is a very difficult task. Determining quality is subjective and can easily lead to accusations of fraud and kickbacks.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

ironically I am a relative of the late Mr. Marvin Schwilling who started at Marais Des Cygne with Kansas Parks and Wildlife and later developed Cheyenne Bottoms. I also heard he worked with Dr. Boyd back then. I asked what Mr. Schwilling would think of the SLT work at ECM and I was ignored. My father wonders what Ivan Boyd would think of this monstrosity.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

really if it's not wetlands prior then and where do people like yourself know where to work? I guess the anger I hear is someone knowing what they've done and being angry about it being discussed publically. wetlands restoration has to be done on an area that was previously wetlands like what's going on in the Houma Indian area down in Louisiana after water diversion, the disappearance of silt and BP right?

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IdahoWinds 7 months ago

What Dr. Boyd said and what you heard are two different things. This has been explained before but you continue to twist the truth (your own words even) to come to the outcome that you desire. Once an area is/was a wetlands, it is NOT always a wetlands as you desire. To use one of your stupid analogies. You have a forest with many trees. You and all of your indian friends come along and cut down all of the trees. The question then is, is it still a forest? Likewise, if you drain a wetlands and plant corn in it, is it a wetlands? The plain and simple answer is NO! For crying out loud, NO! And yet you garble on about it being sandy soil and so therefore it is always a wetlands. Please, for once, stop your stupid little red car, get out and look at the soil at the Baker Wetlands, hey, even the Haskell Wetlands and try to find ANY sand. If you want to pretend to be an expert, learn something about the subject before spouting off nonsense.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

the actions of callous developers and dam builders along the Wakarusa River Valley made this area environmentally sensitive. I'll use this analogy. Say a car collector comes across a barn find vehicle that's not in the greatest shape but due to the low number made and the low number surviving this car means something to someone. Like the Buillit Model Ford Mustang that Rick Harrison desires but Corey Harrison considers junk on Pawn Stars the wetlands looked quite different before White Bureau of Indian Affairs Leaders ordered Haskell students to install tile to drain the water quicker for teaching these students vocational farming. What you saw back then was the aftermath of Euro-American manipulation of lowland area. I drive down US 69 just south of Trading Post, Kansas and the Marais Des Cygne River and what do I see on either side of the highway? If it's a rainy spring I see huge lakes lapping at the side of the highway lanes. If it's a dry summer I see hay baled in the same area of wetlands. Yes wetlands. The only difference between those Marais Des Cygne River wetlands and the Wakarusa wetlands is the amount of information manipulation and denial that's occurred for this SLT project to go forward. Twist the words and misinformation enough and the natural victims and human victims are assailed by the low information populace looking for a quick answer and denial of a history they either weren't taught about, don't understand, or don't care about. I'm still here after numerous verbal assaults some of which I'm thankfully not allowed to see due to moderator intervention which I appreciate. It's time for the story like the one above to be put into proper context. Yes you saw a farm field but only after a wetlands area was drained and tiled near the turn of the twentieth century. It is still a wetlands area as it always was. Someone just chose to manipulate the land as they manipulated the cultures of the indigenous peoples they intended to tear down and remake as White People which is what originally was intended as Haskell and numerous other Indian Boarding Schools a century ago.

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blindrabbit 7 months ago

Apologize for my run-on sentence in the prior. Skipped some punctuation as I edited my post in an attempt to tell the story as it really is/was

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blindrabbit 7 months ago

Merrill: I question your assertion as the area is/was an unique environmentally sensitive area. As a kid growing up a couple of blocks from the Haskell campus in the 1950's, (at that time there was nothing unique about what is now the Baker Wetlands. We traversed that area repeatedly in those days dodging cow pies, crops and collecting fairy and clam shrimps (for school science projects) from the (only one) water filled ditch. the "uniqueness" you posture is/was a creation of man (Baker University) in the years following my adventures there, and to say or suggest that this situation cannot be recreated on the ByPass "set-asides" is to befoul the real situation in the manure I mentioned in my prior.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

I've been waiting to say this.....the fact that you admit that there's no excavation is a tacit under the radar admission that you and the bulldozers that be are afraid of burial sites. I've figured this for a couple of months. But it's nice of you to again manipulate the low information commenters on here that there's no legitimacy to the claims of the remains of dumped Haskell students in the wetlands just like Mr. Boyd for years fueled the whole manmade wetlands nonsense until I confronted him about it at ECM on the KU Campus a couple of years ago and he changes his tune about the soil in the wetlands being a sandy wetlands kind of soil that wasn't suitable for farming. How does one who considers themselves above board scientifically stand by and let scientific misinformation be repeated over and over as fact? where is the scientific meticulousness in this? My answer is that this misinformation served a purpose to sway the opinion to get this road built in spite of the thousands of comments from Native peoples nationwide and the National Congress of American Indians passing a resolution condemning this project. I wouldn't be proud of misleading people to get a project through.

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LogicMan 7 months ago

"through an environmentally sensitive area"

Everywhere, on every habitable planet, is environmentally sensitive.

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Richard Heckler 7 months ago

"The reason the project turns out to be so expensive is due to all of the manure yu'all spread for the past 30 years trying to postpone the inevitable. Enough of Agnes, non-existing burial sites, etc., etc., etc."

Contrary to popular belief......... the fact of the matter is it was a dumb decision to think running a road through an environmentally sensitive area would not go unchallenged. Simple as that. Not to mention the proponents screwed up on the EIS statement....... trying to sneak by. Unethical.

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Edward Coan 7 months ago

From my understanding it won't really be an "expressway" because there will be several stop signs or stop lights so the developers can get traffic to their businesses and real estate. I can't wait for people to complain and find out its not that big of a difference.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

since this is a facts be damned world I will use them. Haskell came into existence in 1884. In the acknowledged cemetery the ages of death are between 8 months and 24 years of age. Yes, an eight month old infant, Harry Whitewolf, is buried in the Haskell student cemetery. I did this study using a book called "Boarding School Seasons" by Brenda J. Child when I was a science student at JCCC a decade ago. This road is being built not far off a historic Indian Boarding School. All of these schools had high fatality rates. Hundreds if not thousands of students died at Carlisle Indian School between 1879 and 1918. Age old question ignored by all of the non Indian participants in this fight........if all of the other Indian boarding schools had high fatality rates then where are the rest of the kids who perished at Haskell in the 19th and early 20th century? I guess a bunch of Missourians will find out just like they did when they disturbed a large Sac and Fox burial site near St. Joseph, Missouri not long ago building a highway of all things. This isn't over until some foreman decides his job and project are more important than admitting what he comes upon. Buried Native Americans get the same respect and treatment as others right?

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engagedecoy 7 months ago

So a company that is 169 miles away that will have to truck across MO to come build this somehow underbid a company that is less than 30 miles away? How does that work? Won't there be costs incurred just to get equipment from Columbia? If the work turns out anything like most Missouri roads, I would offer the contract to Hamm over ANY Missouri company. Seems a bit stupid but eh, I guess the cheapest bid will win and we will have the cheapest version of a road in return. Sometimes it is wise to invest a bit more money to get a quality product. I hope KDOT is wise and picks a local company regardless of bids.

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blindrabbit 7 months ago

All you naysayers give it up. The reason the project turns out to be so expensive is due to all of the manure yu'all spread for the past 30 years trying to postpone the inevitable. Enough of Agnes, non-existing burial sites, etc., etc., etc. By the way, the low bidder appears to have gotten the contract, if a higher bidder was awarded, can you imagine the grousing that would be going on about that. Who cares if it is a Mizzou winner, they bid the lowest!!!

Smile, get happy!!

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riverdrifter 7 months ago

Is it not curious that N.R. Hamm, based 15 miles away, wouldn't have made a more competitive bid? If the money had to go to a Missouri firm, J. E. Dunn would've been the one. They're damn good at what they do.

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Currahee 7 months ago

You know I would have been totally okay giving 150 million to a KANSAS based company.

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

lets see the proponents of this highway intentionally misled US Army Corps of Engineers about the cost of the south of the river route and are now getting low balled by companies who will probably do a sub standard job and cover up whatever they come across. This sounds and looks like an episode of AMC's "Hell On Wheels" with backroom deals and all kinds of shenanigans. Something to be proud of.

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Richard Heckler 7 months ago

When there is several million tax $$$$$$$ difference in bids it is smart business to go with the low bid no matter what. Will there be cost over runs?

Then again why waste tax dollars building a wetlands when mother nature provided the most natural choice. Where's the wetlands water going? Into the nearest back yards?

Continuing with a design that is more than 20 years old seems irresponsible to me,

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richfree 7 months ago

Nice to see something done... when will they finish the western leg of the bypass ?

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patkindle 7 months ago

it is a shame to be sending all that money to Columbia I bet mizzou is doing the happy dance glad to see it is finally going to be built , regardless

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FlintlockRifle 7 months ago

Not the lower bidder, would be my guess,

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Mike Ford 7 months ago

wait until these high school graduates come upon remains. one of my relatives already left a construction company that was submitting a bid because they consider this project offensive.

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elliottaw 7 months ago

Why did the bid not go to a KS contracting company?

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3up3down 7 months ago

Waaaaahoooooooooo........fill the wastelands in and turn it into a parking lot!!!!!!

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NotASquishHead 7 months ago

Awesome! Been waiting for this project to begin for a long time!

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yellowwolf 7 months ago

This should have been done 15 years ago... The new Wetlands are great and will continue to be great even when the road is built.

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blindrabbit 7 months ago

Several pharmaceutical products are available for stomach churning problems, even a good belt of Coke A Cola syrup or a big juicy T-bone steak are also a winners.

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George_Braziller 7 months ago

This comment made my stomach churn a bit:

"If anything, it could start filling in portions of the wetlands before the end of the year," Marburger said, referring to work in the Baker Wetlands.

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