Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bridge Budget Approved ; Replacement Structure to Be Built East of Current Willard Bridge

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Bridge Budget Approved ; Replacement Structure to Be Built East of Current Willard Bridge

Article excerpt

The Shawnee County Commission Monday approved a $127,000 budget to appraise and acquire easements necessary to replace the Willard Bridge over the Kansas River.

Commissioners Kevin Cook, Shelly Buhler and Bob Archer voted 3-0 to approve Buhler's motion to authorize the funding, which will completely use revenue from a countywide, half-cent sales tax voters approved in 2004.

Cook said he wanted to stress that the bridge project is a high priority for the county and the county is moving forward with it.

Public works director Tom Vlach told commissioners last week he hopes to arrange to begin construction of the replacement bridge in January or February of 2016, though the county doesn't have all of the $23,715,400 necessary to cover the costs.

The county is seeking to bridge the funding gap by acquiring an interest-free advance of $7 million to $10 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Vlach told commissioners Monday that Shawnee County will need to acquire easements at the southeast, northeast and northwest corners of the area where the bridge will be built. Wabaunsee County will need to acquire easements at the southwest corner, which is in that county, he said.

The replacement bridge will be built east of the current bridge, leaving an eight-foot gap between the two structures. Once the new bridge is completed, the current bridge will be removed, with the cost of removal being part of the bridge's overall replacement costs.

Commissioners on Monday also:

- Voted 3-0 to issue a conditional use permit to enable a medical care facility at 8722 S.W. 29th to keep operating there. Officials with Equi-Venture Farms, LLC., said they hadn't realized they lacked the proper permit for the past 14 years while operating that day service facility for adults ages 17 to 65 who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. …

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