Commissioners discuss traffic signal request

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth’s city manager has asked county commissioners to include a traffic signal as part of an Eisenhower Road project.

County commissioners took up the request Wednesday. Leavenworth City Manager Paul asked that a traffic signal at the intersection of 20th Street and Eisenhower Road be included as part of the base bid for a county-funded project instead of as an alternate, or possible add-on.

But following the discussion by commissioners, it appears county officials will proceed with treating the signal as an alternate bid for the Eisenhower Road project.

However, it was suggested to Kramer that county commissioners likely will support paying for the traffic light if construction bids for the project are favorable.

County officials are planning to widen a section of Eisenhower Road from west of 13th Street to County Road 5.

The project will be advertised for construction bids Sept. 4. Bids will be opened Oct. 9, according to Bill Noll, infrastructure and construction services director for the county.

The road project was promised by county commissioners when voters approved the renewal of a countywide sales tax in 2015.

The stretch of Eisenhower Road that will be widened includes the intersection with 20th Street.

This intersection has been a source of contention between the city of Leavenworth and county government.

In 2018, the city filed a lawsuit against the county after county commissioners voted to build a roundabout at the intersection.

Leavenworth officials have contended that a 2016 agreement between the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing and the county government calls for the county to install a traffic signal at that intersection.

County commissioners ultimately abandoned plans for the roundabout and a judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Kramer said Wednesday that it was his understanding the county will not have a traffic signal installed unless the city of Leavenworth pays for it.

Kramer said the traffic signal was included in the county’s original proposal for the project.

“It’s always been part of the project,” he said.

Kramer said it was not until a dispute developed regarding a roundabout that county officials began looking for ways to justify not having a traffic signal.

He said the city will be responsible for maintaining the roadway and traffic signal at the conclusion of the project.

Kramer said the project started off as being “very collaborative” between the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing and the county.

“I would like to return to how we started this project,” he said.

County Commissioner Mike Stieben asked if a traffic study has determined a signal is needed at the intersection.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said an engineering firm found that a stop light was not justified at the intersection.

Kramer said he believes the intersection does meet the criteria for what are called traffic signal warrants.

Loughry said including the traffic signal as an alternate in the bidding process does not preclude county commissioners from approving funding for the signal.

“We can accept the alternate or we can reject the alternate,” he said.

If bids for the project come in lower than estimates, it may be more palatable for the county to pick up the cost of a traffic signal, Loughry said.

If the traffic signal is included in the base bid, the county will be required to pay for it, he said.

He said the cost of the traffic signal may be between $300,000 and $350,000.

“As an alternate, it leaves it open for discussion,” Loughry said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a contract that will allow juveniles from the 1st Judicial District, which includes Leavenworth County, to be housed at a Wyandotte juvenile detention facility on an as needed basis at a cost of $150 per day per juvenile.

• Approved plans from local school districts and cities for the use of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The county government is administering the distribution of federal C.A.R.E.S. Act funding within the county.