The original version of the Eighth Street expansion envisioned a straight shot between connecting Grant and McKinley streets, Walmart on the east end and Dillon’s on the west.
However, the Great Bend City Council learned Monday night, that will not work. Revisions are needed to the plans for the $830,000 project.
So, the council authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign the change order for city’s on-call engineering firm Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita in the amount of $14,900. The original contract for the design work that was approved was for $47,500, making the total design cost $62,400.
“You have approved the Eighth Street paving improvement project,” Interim City Administrator George Kolb said. “When you approved it, you approved a very preliminary concept of what Eighth Street would look like.”
As requested, the engineers came back with the straight design.
However, when PEC analyzed it and did the traffic studies, they found it did not meet Department of Transportation standards, Kolb said. “We would have to restrict any left turn movements otherwise, we are taking a liability of creating a high-traffic or high-accident intersection.”
PEC noted there were some traffic safety hazards and recommended turns going south on McKinley be restricted.
Why is this an issue?
Eighth Street actually takes a jog southward when it reaches McKinley. This means the western terminus of a straight expansion would intersect McKinley north of Eighth as it continues west of McKinley, creating confusion for motorists.
“We looked at it and it is a problem, not only for trucks that are desiring to go south, but as that community grows with more residential there will be residents who desire to move south,” Kolb said.
“The concept had not been studied, it was just a concept and now they have moved to preliminary plans for the project,” Kolb said. “As requested, engineers came back with the straight design.”
The revised plan has Eighth jogging slightly southward before it reaches McKinley. This lines it up with Eighth on the west side of McKinley.
“The supplemental agreement authorizes PEC to align the west end of the Eighth Street expansion with the actual east end of Eighth on the west side of McKinley,” Kolb said.
The change erases the problem, Kolb said. “This eliminates the need to restrict turns and the liability to city.”
The city already owns the property in the Eighth Street easement. But, the revision may require the city acquiring about a half acre of adjoining farm ground to accommodate the turn, and this would require council approval.
Kolb didn’t know how much this would cost, but estimates put it at between $8-10,000 for the land and the additional materials involved. However, with this and the increased design costs, the total price for the improvement would still be well within the $830,000 petitioned amount.
“I like the design of this better,” Councilman Dana Dawson said. “It lines up the streets.”
Most on the council agreed with the change. It passed on a 6-1 vote with Dawson joining other council members Allene Owen, Joel Jackson, Jolene Biggs, Cory Zimmerman and Vicki Berryman voting for it.
Councilman Brock McPherson cast the only no vote.
In October, the council approved seeking the $830,000 in bonds to pay for the work. But, ultimately, the entire cost will be assessed back to the property owners along the new street.
Property owners in the improvement district will be assessed the total cost of the work on a per-frontage-foot basis.
Making this an issue now are the planned 10th and Grant improvements set to begin late next spring. The scope of the $800,000 project (the state pays 90 percent of this) is to increase turning radii to better accommodate large trucks turning onto Grant from 10th headed to Walmart.
However, this means the 10th and Grant intersection will have to be closed during the work, blocking all but one entrance into Walmart, and entrances to the Reserves at Trail Ridge, Comfort Inn and other area businesses. Eighth Street would be a relief valve and detour.
In cases like this, landowners wanting the improvements had to file petition supporting it, officials said. If at lest 51 percent or more of landowners in the improvement district sign, the improvement can be made in without a formal hearing.
Walmart owns two strips on the east end and Lighthouse Investments of Great Bend owns entire field that fronts the south edge of the street, and both back the project. These two amount to 54 percent of the property involved.
Trail Ridge Partners, developers of the Reserves at Trail Ridge apartments, also approved of the extension. The only other property owner involved is Gentilly Real Estate of New Orleans, La., owners of the former Montana Mikes building.
Kolb said all of the property owners have been notified of the change, and the potential increased cost.
This is about a three-block stretch and includes the curb cuts. It will be a three-lane street with a center turning lane.
But, traffic will be controlled with stop signs only, for now.
“There will be no stop light at this time,” Kolb said. “I can’t say that will never happen. There is contemplated development in the area that may make a traffic light necessary.”
The addition of a signal would be a local decision, Kolb said, adding the state would not have to be involved.