On Monday, Abilene Public Works Department received a document from the Kansas Department of Transportation saying public work’s major construction project on 14 Street between Vine Street and Buckeye Avenue has been selected for the KDOT’s Cost Share Program.
“All of our city staff, engineering company and our commission members were ecstatic and, personally, have a feeling of relief to know this project will become a reality,” said Lon Schrader, Public Works director.
According to Schrader and the document, the Cost Share Program will be awarding a reimbursement grant for $1 million for the construction phase of the project. The project will aim to replace about 1850 feet of 14th Street which is about 70 years old, Schrader said. Each side of the road will be changed into two 12’ wide lanes with a third dedicated center turn lane. New sidewalks the length of the section on both sides of the roadway will be paved.
The project will cost around $2 million, Schrader said. While the grant certainly helps, he explained that the rest of the funds will be pulled from city tax funding.
“For almost 10 years, about nine years, in 2012 or 2013 by ballot or election or voting, residents of the city approved a sales tax funding mechanism on all sales taxes for street work. Roughly that takes in $300,000 to $350,000 a year,” Schrader said. “The projects you see us doing around town now, and have done over the last 10 years, if it was taking place on some other street other than K-15, those are all city dollars being spent on that.”
If they didn’t receive the grant, Schrader said the city would have had to wait several years to save money and work on minor projects or accumulate debt.
Schrader said this project is a continuation from the public works’ improvement project on the intersection of 14th Street and Buckeye Avenue. It was always their intention to keep improving 14th Street, Shrader said.
The reimbursement grant works like a normal grant. Public Works will pay the construction company up front, and KDOT will give the $1 million at a later time, Schrader explained.
The 14th Street project is one of 20 projects the KDOT’s Cost Share Program is funding. The total amount KDOT will be giving out is $9.4 millon. The program started in 2019. According to a press release from the office of the governor, the cost share program will have funded over 100 projects for over almost $97 million, along with $68 million in additional local funds.
Schrader said this would be the third time public works has applied for this grant. For the third application, Ron Marsh, city manager, said several groups, such as the Abilene School District, local businesses, members of community and the city commissioners wrote letters to KDOT asking for the grant and describing the impact it would have on the community.
Public works now will finish the details and engineering of the project, Schrader said. Bidding for construction companies will begin the fall of 2022, and construction will start sometime in 2023.
Also in 2023, improvement construction on S. Buckeye Avenue from KDOT will take place. The improvements are part of the City Connecting Link Improvement Program from the department to improve the state highway system. Since they are both slated for 2023, the South Buckeye construction and the construction for 14th Street will take place around the same time, Schrader said.