City council endorses County Road 1055 resolution
Baldwin City Council’s three new members voted on their most important decision to date at Monday night’s meeting.
Along with the two other members, the city council voted to approve a resolution that endorses specific components of the preliminary design of the North Sixth Street/Douglas County Road 1055 reconstruction project. The resolution was approved 4-1, with Shane Starkey opposed.
The project cost of the project is $3.4 million, most of which will be split between Baldwin City and Douglas County. The city council plans on paying for its share through the money brought in from the half-cent sales tax resolution that was passed in November 2009.
“Dissention on a governing body is a good thing, as long as it’s respectful,” Mayor Ken Wagner said Monday night. “I thought this was a very respectful and informative discussion. Everybody needs their own opinion here. I’m glad we had this discussion.”
Starkey explained why he didn’t want to move forward with the project. He gave his reasons during the council’s discussion.
“When it was originally started between Ames and High streets, the road was in such despair, you couldn't drive 15 miles per hour down the road,” Starkey said. “That is something that needed to be addressed. On the south Sixth Street project, I believe there was a sewer project involved in that as well. That was something that needed to be addressed.
“On this new project, we’re talking about five to 10 years out before it becomes a need,” he said. “I’m not sold that it’s the right time to be spending money. With us paying for all of the easements and sidewalks, it’s not a 50-50 mix on cost.”
By approving the resolution, the city council endorses the three components. Those are the three-lane design for the length of the project, inclusion of a five-foot sidewalk on the both sides of the road and add-alternate bids that would make it a 10-foot recreational hike/bike path on the east side.
“We have a resolution on some design criteria that we are going to put in front of the council, because we have to move forward with the engineering firms and our staff on how the design criteria will be set,” Wagner said. “When the project goes to bid, the construction companies need to know what the project is going to look like. We have to really try hard to keep the cost of the project within the confines of that half-cent sales tax.”
Wanger said the city estimates $190,000 in revenue from the half-cent sales tax. He also said he hoped to avoid increasing the mill levy to pay for the project, which is set to go to bid in January with construction beginning in spring 2012.
Opponents to the project spoke at Monday’s meeting. Christa Anderson, who lives in the Parkside homes along the west side of 1055, expressed concerns about the scope of the project and whether now was the correct time for it. She suggested the city council delay moving forward with the project and remove the proposed sidewalk on the west side of the road.
Anderson also suggested the traffic on 1055 would decrease after U.S. Highway 59 is finished with its four-lane expansion. Council member Jason Mock disagreed with her.
“I think people in town use 56 and 59 for different reasons than they use 1055,” Mock said. “If you want to get to Mass Street or Kansas University, you take 1055. Regardless of how nice the new highway is going to be, there is still going to be significant traffic on 1055. This isn’t a five- or 10-years project, it’s a 50-year project.”
Other complaints came from business owners along 1055. They are worried there won’t be a route for customers to reach their business next year when the road is closed.
“I’m making a commitment here that I will make sure that there is extra signage letting people know that those businesses, by name, are open for business,” Wagner said. “My commitment to you is that there will be a lane of traffic open so people can get to those businesses. That’s the commitment I can make to you tonight.”