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Colder water coming to city's Outdoor Aquatic Center; bids for 23rd and Iowa street road project come in $1M over budget

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To wake up of a morning, some people drink a half-gallon of coffee, some eat copious amounts of Cap'n Crunch doused in Mountain Dew, and some of us cut out the middle man entirely and pour Karo syrup directly down our gullets. Then there are the crazy ones: They dive into the chilly waters of the competition pool at the Indoor Aquatic Center.

That cold water, it appears, also will be found at the city's Outdoor Aquatic Center this summer. Kansas University has offered to purchase a $45,000 chiller for the downtown Outdoor Aquatics Center to cool the water to a temperature more appropriate for competition swimming.

Parks and Recreation officials plan to use the chiller to cool the water to 82 degrees each morning, which will accommodate members of the KU swim team and other clubs who use the pool for lap swimming before it opens to the public in the afternoon. In case you are wondering, 82 degrees is the same temperature maintained at the competition pool at the Indoor Center.

Jimmy Gibbs, recreation and aquatics manager for the department, said the chiller, however, only will run overnight. The water will heat up during the course of the day. But the bottom-line is, the water in the outdoor pool will be cooler than it has been in the past.

Gibbs said he thinks the recreational swimmers who use the pool will be fine with the cooler water. Gibbs said sometimes the pool water reaches temperatures of 90 to 94 degrees. With the new system, he expects daytime temperatures will be in the mid-80s.

"When it reaches 94 or 95, we have people come out and tell us that it is not very refreshing," Gibbs said.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the pool heats up during the day, and what the average swimmer thinks about the temperature. I just know there are two things that have kept me from being a great Olympic swimmer: The cold water, and my eyebrows. (They create a wake like an 87-foot yacht.)

As for the chiller, city commissioners are scheduled to approve the project at their Tuesday evening meeting. KU has agreed to pay for the cost of the project, although the city will pay for the energy to run the chiller.

KU swimmers and other competitive teams have used the outdoor pool for morning swimming practices for many years, Gibbs said. The competition pool at the Indoor Aquatic Center is available for such practices, but Gibbs said outdoor swimming is very popular.

"Many of the swim teams just absolutely enjoy swimming outside during the morning," Gibbs said. "There is really nothing quite like it."

In other news and notes from around town:

• Motorists may have a need to cool off as they try to traverse the intersection of 23d and Iowa streets this summer. A major rebuilding of the intersection is on tap in the coming months. The waterline work you see there now is not the major project. (Think of that project like one of those giant cinnamon rolls. It is not breakfast. It is a warm-up for breakfast.)

The rebuilding work is expected to create some traffic delays, but the project already has encountered some bad news before it has even gotten underway. Bids recently came in about $1 million higher than expected.

The city received only two bids for the project. The low bid from Amino Brothers Company came in at $3.7 million. Engineers had estimated the cost of the project at $2.7 million. City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday are being asked to approve the project, and pull the extra money out of the city's infrastructure sales tax account.

The number of bidders and the price may be a good indication that the construction industry in Lawrence has picked back up. For much of last year, city projects came in under bid as multiple construction firms were aggressively trying to get work. Or, the bids for 23rd and Iowa may just be a recognition that working in the busiest intersection in the city is going to be a real pain, so several companies decided to take a pass on this one.

Either way, motorists should prepare for a series of obstacles this summer. The intersection will remain open to traffic, but many times will be funneled down to one lane. Plans call for work to begin in May and last until mid-November.

When completed, the intersection will include dual left-turn lanes for all four corners of the intersection, reconfigured right-turn lanes for west, south and northbound traffic, pedestrian-friendly medians, and all new concrete pavement.

• Construction projects on Iowa Street this summer will be a bit like biscuits and gravy on an all you-can-eat buffet: If you don't get enough, it will be your own fault.

As we have previously reported, city engineers have plans to improve the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets. Last year was supposed to be the year for the project, but some additional design work pushed it to this summer.

Commissioners are scheduled to receive bids later this month, but they have set a tentative start date of May 19. I haven't seen an estimated end date yet, but the project likely will take most of the summer.

When completed, the project will include two-thru lanes and a dedicated left-turn lane for westbound traffic turning off of Sixth Street onto Iowa. Currently, the intersection has just two lanes, and neither of them are a dedicated left-turn lane. Other improvements will include a new right-turn lane for motorists turning east off of Iowa onto Sixth Street, new sidewalks and an improved shared use path on the north side of the intersection.

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  • Comments

    Eric Moore 8 months, 3 weeks ago

    I have definitely been at the pool when its been 90 degree water. It's like jumping out a sauna and into another sauna so I like the idea of a chiller.

    As to the Iowa 23rd construction, Im kind of okay with the higher bid and just get it done. I see Lawrence expanding a little faster than normal so infrastructure is very important. Construction isn't fun at all and thankfully its during the summer and not the fall when all the students are back, but it is necessary or else we are gonna be in a world of hurt later on down the road.

    Clark Coan 8 months, 3 weeks ago

    I still think we need to require a five-year warranty for any road work. I remember when the first leg of the SLT needed to be repaved after just four years! That's ridiculous.

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