Archive for Monday, November 19, 2012

Baldwin USD 348 agrees to donate easement for expanded KDOT project

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

Baldwin USD 348 Board of Education

November 19, 2012

Baldwin City residents pleased with the completion Friday of construction on North Sixth Street should be prepared for construction to close another main entrance to the city next spring.

Baldwin City Public Works Director Bill Winegar shared that news Monday with the Baldwin Board of Education, while seeking its help with the project on U.S. Highway 56 on the city’s west side.

In February 2011, the Kansas Department of Transportation approved an application by Baldwin City and Douglas County to make safety improvement to the U.S. 56/Lawrence Street intersection as part the agency’s corridor management program. The project, estimated to cost $500,000, was to add a turn lane to the intersection.

Winegar told the school board Monday that, after reviewing the project, KDOT decided to significantly increase its scope. KDOT now plans to cut the hill to the east of the intersection by 6.5 feet, an action that will significantly improve the sight line at the corner.

KDOT is also wrapping the replacement of three narrow bridges on U.S. 56 into the project, Winegar said. The eastern-most bridge to be replaced is just west of 10th Street in Baldwin City.

KDOT has assumed all engineering costs for the upgraded project, Winegar said, but the city and county are to share the cost of utility relocation and easement acquisition. That expense increased significantly with the plan to cut the hill, which required the city acquire another 60 feet of easement south of the highway from Bullpup Drive to Lawrence Street, he said.

To help reduce that expense, the city was asking the school district to donate the easement, Winegar said.

The board unanimously approved the request. Winegar will ask that the Bullpup Drive intersection be kept open until the end of this school year in May and reopened by the start of school in August.

The project is to take one construction season, Winegar said. It will be bid in February 2013 and work will start in April.

The official detour will take traffic south to Ottawa, east to Wellsville on Interstate 35 and north to U.S. 56 on Kansas Highway 33.


1776attorney 7 years, 11 months ago

Ms. Jones.

We would appreciate a detailed follow up story on this project as very few taxpayers in Baldwin City are even familiar with it's scope or what we are now surprised to hear we are paying for.

The city, school board and county have done an excellent job of hiding these projects from taxpayers until they are sprung upon us at the last minute. Although there are been bits and pieces of this project sporatically in your newspaper, the city administrators have never presented or explained this and similar projects to taxpayers.

Does this project include city taxpayer funded sidewalks along Highway 56 to and from the elementary schools ? (A hazard to young, walking, goofing-around children and highway drivers.) And a boondoggle sidwalk that won't see much usage like the new 6th Street walking bouelvards.

What are both city taxpayers and school district taxpayers paying for this project ?

When were the public hearings for this project ?

Since the school distict and primarily the superintendent pushed for these new elementary schools in such a poor location, both traffic-wise and for walking children, what is the school's monetary contribution to this project ?

While we appreciate your news stories, Ms. Jones, the details are often very vague and the follow-up non-existent. This just aids the city and school district in splipping by these types of projects past taxpayers.

Contrary to what our city and school leaders might think in their "self-absorbed bubble world of "yes" people", the taxpayers of this city have had enough of the high tax rates, uncontrolled spending and lack of communication and projects that are for the benefit of insiders and cronies.

General services and upkeep of the central areas of Baldwin City are deficient as the monies and services are concentrated to "insider", newer areas of the city.

We have an election this coming Spring and these hard facts and issues are going to determined who we elect next.


Nathaniel Johnson 7 years, 11 months ago

I am agreeing with 1776attorney more and more lately though I am not hostile toward the new schools. We need a more transparent budgeting and spending process. The newspaper is the logical place to publish this information but making it available on the city's official website would also be helpful. The idea behind these growth projects has always been that the new projects would reap returns for the older neighborhoods. I have seen many communities in Southern California where that was the stated goal but it ended up marginalizing the original communities and eventually they turned into small poor neighborhoods surrounded by wealthier new neighborhoods. I approve of the idea of Baldwin improving it's infrastructure but it must be in a far more balanced approach. I think it is disingenuous to say that we are going to attract new growth with these projects. That growth is going to happen anyway and done appropriately, the developers will pay a more appropriate part of the expenses. In the meantime, it is time to aim improvements at our own "inner city".

Here is what I consider the most pressing issues: 1) Eisenhower Street, by the high school needs to be widened. The encroachment by the trailer homes on the right of way needs to be addressed. 2) A stop light needs to be added at the corner of 8th and 56 highway. 3) The streets around Liston Stadium need to be widened and sidewalks added.

I am sure there are many more but those are the ones that stand out to me.

Nathaniel Johnson


greyghost 7 years, 11 months ago

This intersection has been a topic for some time now--yes, although it is only a problem because of lack of foresight from the school boards of past. Its safety does need addressed. Think of it as "leaving it better than how you found it" mantra. Hopefully, we will be widening the bridge by 11th Street in order to deal with the bottlenecking that happens there. The bridges further west have nothing to do with the safety of this intersection.

As far as the previous two posters, I agree that we should not lose sight of our city center (and its infrastructure), but remember that we just had the downtown revitalization/bridge project completed a few years back. So, the argument falls short.


1776attorney 7 years, 11 months ago

Greyghost. Thanks for your comment.

My constructive criticism is in regards to the complete lack of initiative or planning for sidewalks, gutters, rainwater drainage, curbing and street leveling and improvements to the 15 square block residential area surrounding the downtown- the "city center".

While I could offer some suggestions for improvement to the downtown business district, that area has in fact been improved recently and isn't a priority now, in my humble opinion.

My complaint is focused on all of these fancy and costly streets, sidewalks and intersections in "newly" developed neighborhoods paid for by all taxpayers while the city center is neglected and continues to deteriorate with age and use.

The 1055 / 6th Street project was paid for by all taxpayers and benefited a tiny minority of special interests with a new street, over-sized sidewalks, rainwater drainage and curbing that will be utilized by very, very few people. Just as the planned "nature trail" in this part of town would be.

Who it might benefit greatly is a developer looking to build a residential development on the west side of 1055 who wants to forgo the expense of paying for the streets and sidewalks themselves.

The city could just as easily have benefited the city center residents by allocating these funds to new streets, sidewalks, curbing and drainage within the 15 block city center area. This part of town should take priority over new development. The city administration's excuse that homeowners have to pay for sidewalks, curbing and drainage is no longer is valid.

And yes, as mentioned above, 2 areas of safety concerns are the hilltop intersection near the elementary schools and the 8th Street and Highway 56 interscetion. Our older residences have a nightmare trying to get to the grocery store across this busy intersection.

What peeves me is that the city is contemplating building new sidewalks now along Highway 56 out to the elementary schools at taxpayer expense. A route close to heavy vehicle traffic.

Incidently, I contacted the KDOT regarding a signal installation at 8th Street and Highway 56 after the improvements were completed and I was sent a very vague letter stating that this intersection was not in the original design plans and not a priority for future improvements. However, depending on the time of day, this interesetion is a safety hazard and traffic nightmare to navigate.


Nathaniel Johnson 7 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for responding GreyGhost. It would be nice to know if you are involved Baldwin governance so I know whether to say thank you for responding before I jump in a start complaining again. I will just assume that you are and thank you.

I would say that the argument still stands though. The downtown renovation does not really benefit residents as much as it helps the businesses in that area (a good thing of course). I guess the heart of my concern is that the fundamental infrastructure of roads and sidewalks is so obviously poor in some areas that the contrast with these new projects is painfully obvious to everyone. Take a walk in the area just East of Baker or South of downtown and you run across very poorly maintained roads and no public drainage plan. Baldwin is situated on a hill and we still have areas that flood. The Women's Bridge and South 6th Street projects are good starts but we need a more comprehensive, long term statement of intent on the existing infrastructure in all areas of the town. Not just the new developments.


Stacy Napier 7 years, 11 months ago

These projects are run by KDOT directly. I would say you need to post your questions to their contact person. They have a great website for all their projects.

Of course this doesn't address how much each agency is paying and for what. I belive that has been posted in other storie here.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.