Transportation needs in the rapidly-developing southwest portion of the county occupied much of the Pottawatomie County Commission agenda Monday.
The commission adopted a resolution seeking a grant to fund a pedestrian bridge and multi-use path along Green Valley Road; heard a review of a Safe Routes to School Plan to help bolster that application; and reviewed another grant designed to help guide future development in the area.
The commission committed to a 20% match of a potential $600,000 grant through the Transportation Alternatives Program administered by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The grant, if received, would fund a pedestrian bridge and a multi-use pathway along Green Valley Road north of U.S. Highway 24.
The pedestrian project was originally part of the overall plan to improve the intersection of U.S. 24 and Green Valley Road, but officials eliminated it because of cost.
Blue Township has agreed to paying half the 20% match committed by the county.
The Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization is conducting a Safe Routes to School Study to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in light of the new Oliver Brown Elementary School, which is expected to open next fall in the Green Valley area.
The study, being conducted at no cost to the county, should bolster the chances of receiving the grant through KDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, according to Stephan Metzger, county planner.
The commission also authorized Metzger to solicit requests for qualifications to conduct a Transportation and Thoroughfare Plan for the Green Valley area.
The study is to be funded by a $117,600 grant through the Fort Riley Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), with the county funding 10% ($11,760) of the study.
The study will create a detailed document on the types and locations of roadways needed in the area, best practices on road designs, and preserving right-of-way for future development, Metzger said.
Commissioner Pat Weixelman questioned the value of another study.
“It just amazes me that we’re doing study after study after study costing thousands and thousands of dollars,” Weixelman said. “I’m just wondering when the studies are going to stop.”
The studies are useful in directing future development in a growing county, Metzger said.
“This is what we’ll use to require them (developers) to add the necessary infrastructure to their developments,” he said.
In other business Monday:
• Katie Pawlosky, communications director, and Daniel Garas, outreach coordinator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, updated the commission on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) near Kansas State University.
The $1.25 billion facility will be only the fifth bio-security level 4 facility in the world and the first in the United States, designed to protect the U.S. from emerging animal diseases.
The 700,000-square-foot facility will employ 400 people and will operate 24/7 once it becomes operational in August 2023.
• The commission opted for a gate and a “no trespassing” sign to deter recreational “mudders” from damaging a portion of Hopkins Creek Road, a dirt road maintained by the county just south of Dean Road.
“I’ll bet if you put a gate up you can get a tag number when they open it and if you fine them a couple of hundred bucks to grade the road it would slow it down pretty quickly,” Commissioner Greg Riat said of the “mudding.”
Public Works Director Peter Clark originally proposed an alternative to add a three-inch rock base to the roadway to preclude having to continually regrade it.
The landowner agreed to pay half the estimated cost of $25,000 to $30,000 for the rock base, Clark said.
Riat said a gate and a sign “seems like a fairly cheap solution and something we should give a try.”
If the gate works, commissioners agreed with Clark that it would likely not eliminate the problem, but only move it somewhere else in the county.
• Dustin Newman, assistant public works director, provided an update on replacement of the bridge on Shannon Creek Road northeast of Olsburg.
Newman said the bridge could be substantially complete and ready for reopening in two weeks. Commissioners, however, said safety and efficiency would be best served by waiting until the bridge is 100% complete before reopening.
• The commission approved a bid of $60,000-plus from Network Computer Solutions, St. George, to install audio and visual equipment in the county Emergency Operations Center at Wamego, and in the commissioners’ room at Westmoreland.
The equipment and installation will be paid for with funds from the county’s allotment from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress earlier this year.
• The commission presented certificates to Sharon Strifler and Shelby Winiecki, both with five years of service to the county.