Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County OKs $24.7M Budget for Willard Bridge ; Bridge: Vlach Anticipates 'Christmas Present' Ready by Dec. 22, 2017

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County OKs $24.7M Budget for Willard Bridge ; Bridge: Vlach Anticipates 'Christmas Present' Ready by Dec. 22, 2017

Article excerpt

The Shawnee County Commission on Monday approved a project budget of more than $24.7 million to replace the deteriorating Willard Bridge.

Commissioners Shelly Buhler, Kevin Cook and Bob Archer voted 3-0 to approve Buhler's motion to take that step and also solicit bids from companies interested in doing the work.

Monday's moves demonstrate "significant progress towards completion of this project," said Buhler, who represents the district where the bridge stands.

The vote comes at a time of uncertainty regarding what sources will provide the county funding for the project, and in what amounts.

But Tom Vlach, director of the public works and solid waste departments, suggested the county accept bids soon because the current bidding climate is very good.

"We've got three extremely hungry contractors out there right now, and potentially seven," he said.

Vlach added that once the county accepts bids, it will have a better idea of exactly how much the project will cost.

The project budget approved Monday totals $24,704,872, which includes more than $1.4 million the county has already spent on design and right-of-way acquisition.

The budget also includes nearly $1.16 million expected to come from Wabaunsee County. The bridge is on N.W. Carlson Road,

which is the boundary between Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties. Setting the project budget is necessary for drafting an agreement with Wabaunsee County commissioners, Vlach said.

Other funding for the project is expected to come from a combination of sources, including:

- The money the county will have left over in revenue from a countywide, half-cent sales tax, which has been levied since Jan. 1, 2005, after it expires Dec. 31. That is expected to be about $6 million.

- A still unknown amount in revenue from an extension of the countywide, half-cent sales tax, which voters approved last year to be levied from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2031. The board of directors of the Joint Economic Development Organization, a body of city and county elected officials, plans to meet next week as part of efforts to reach an agreement on how that revenue will be spent. …

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