It has been a long time coming. Construction on the much-anticipated Cheyenne Bottoms scenic overlook east of Hoisington on K-4 should begin this fall following the approval of the bid to build the attraction by the Barton County Commission Monday morning.
The contract went to L&M Construction of Great Bend for $328,746. Under the Kansas Department of Transportation grants covering the project, the county will split 20 percent of the cost ($66,000) with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
“This has been an ongoing project,” County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.
The county, partnering with the KDWPT, has received two grants from the KDOT and the Federal Highway Administration for the improvements. Technically, there are two phases involved in this effort, the paving of the parking lot and sidewalks, and the tower and this contract covers both.
After several modifications, KDOT solicited bids for grading, surfacing and roadside improvements, Boeckman said.
If work begins this autumn, Boeckman said it could be completed by next spring, weather permitting.
It was up to KDOT to let the bids for the project. However, proposals received earlier this year came in much higher than anticipated so it was rebid.
L&M came in with the best offer and this time, it fell within the limits set by KDOT.
So far, the county has spent $57,000 on this effort, and it has been reimbursed over $26,000 by KDWPT.
“I am proud of this commission,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “We’ve been on this journey for a long time.”
There have been compromises scaling back the project, But, she said, in the end there will still be a site that will enhance the Bottoms, and may even draw more tourists to the area.
The project includes a 10-foot timber viewing tower accessed by a series of handicapped- accessible ramps. In addition, there will be a paved sidewalk leading to the site from the current site of the information kiosk and parking lot, which will also be paved.
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Reappointed John Haberman to the Memorial Park Advisory Committee for an uncompensated term ending July 2020. The committee is charged with advising and assisting the commission regarding the care and maintenance of the Barton County Owned and Operated Memorial Parks and Cemetery, including the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial. With not less than five, nor more than seven members, there is still one remaining opening terming in July, 2020.