Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Downtown project rolls; ‘Women’s Bridge’ slows

July 5, 2007

While the Downtown Streetscape project is well on its way, another project along High Street won't be done as quickly as planned.

The contractor for the $1.8 million downtown project has removed a section of the sidewalk along the north side of High, with the exception of the fire station, in anticipation of the new waterline being installed beginning today. Meanwhile, it was learned Monday that the Women's Bridge, which had been expected to be finished by the end of June, won't be done until mid August, according to City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Fire Chief Allen Craig said that he'd been told to expect the concrete in front of the station to be removed today. Until then, the fire trucks will again be coming out of the south end of the station, rather than the north as they thought they'd have to do last week. Instead, the contractor didn't tear up that section of the sidewalk.

Other than that, Craig isn't sure how it's all going to be handled, but response times will not be adversely affected regardless of the route trucks leave the station.

"Thursday morning at 8 or 8:30, they're going to start the waterline," said Craig. "It's a 30-inch hole. They probably won't break up the concrete until then. Or, they might break it up and fill it with gravel. They might put fast-drying concrete in after the line is in or they might use gravel. I don't know. But, they're working with me.

"It's if, if, if and maybe on what's going on down here," he said.

The Bryant and Bryant crew moved over to the parking lot near the American Legion Hall on Monday and will work there until the waterline is complete, said Dingman.

"I don't really have any updates, other than they'll be getting the parking lot in place while the waterline contractor is working along High Street," said Dingman.

Also on Monday, a different crew -- Perfection Concrete out of Kansas City, Mo. -- began work in front of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce building. That crew is constructing the pad which will hold a water fountain that is being built to honor Baker University's 150th anniversary this year.

"They will be placing a concrete pad for the fountain to sit on," said Dingman. "The pad will be in place to give the downtown contractor something to work around. The pool for the fountain will be installed on top of the pad sometime in August. At least that's the plan."

Also on Monday, crews began taking down the streetlights on the north edge of High Street. Both city crews and Quality Electric out of Lawrence were working on that. The downtown project calls for new streetlights in addition to other improvements and the all-new sidewalks.

There's not as much progress to report, however, on the Women's Bridge, a $1.2 million restoration project on the historic bridge on High Street between 10th and 11th streets. It was started in December. Earlier in June, Dingman thought it would be finished by now. Weather and other factors have delayed the project.

But, it's not all bad news with the restoration which has hampered access to West Baldwin.

"I asked the contractor about when the bridge would be finished.," said Dingman. "He said mid-August, but the roadway should be opened up sooner than that -- although he couldn't /wouldn't say how much sooner."

Both projects are being funded by the Kansas Department of Transporation, for the most part. KDOT is picking up 80 percent of both projects.

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