County allocates $150,000 for study

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners approved the allocation of $150,000 for a countywide transportation study.

The request for the funding was made by Greg Kaaz, chairman of the Leavenworth County Port Authority.

Last year, county commissioners tasked the Port Authority with overseeing a countywide transportation study.

Kaaz said the study is needed to help secure future federal and state funding for road projects in the county.

He said Julie Lorenz, secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has stated Leavenworth County needs a transportation plan.

Kaaz said he also has requested funding for the study from the governing bodies of the cities of Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor and Tonganoxie.

“Nobody voted against this,” he said. “They all agreed to pony up the money.”

Kaaz requested $90,000 from the city of Leavenworth, $30,000 from Lansing and $15,000 each from Basehor and Tonganoxie.

Kaaz hopes KDOT will provide $150,000 for the study. If this request is approved, a total of $450,000 would be available for the study.

He said the Leavenworth County government will serve as the lead agency and enter into a contract with the consulting firm that conducts the study.

A request for proposals from prospective consultants has been prepared but not yet released.

Kaaz said the estimated cost for the study is between $450,000 and $650,000.

Commissioner Mike Stieben asked about the source of the additional funding that would be needed if the study costs $650,000 instead of $450,000.

“My intention would be to go to KDOT first,” Kaaz said. “You guys would probably be second on the list.”

Kaaz hopes the consultants will develop a model to prioritize projects in the county.

Kaaz said one of the most important things regarding the study will be agreement and support among the various entities in the county.

“Everybody needs to agree on the same thing and it needs to be adopted by all elected officials,” he said.

He acknowledged this will be a challenge.

“There’s going to have to be some give and take,” he said.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith said it is important to have commitment from the various entities.

“It’s so important to make sure that everybody is on board with this or we’re going to be wasting funds,” he said.

Stieben noted that the study is being referred to as a regional study. He asked if the study will be specific to Leavenworth County.

Kaaz said the study will be specific to Leavenworth County but it may look at tying into infrastructure in neighboring counties.

“I think we have to do this to be considered for any funding,” Commissioner Doug Smith said of the study.

He said it is important to have projects on the shelf.

Kaaz said a consultant likely will not be hired until August or September. He believes the study will take about 12 months to complete.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said the county’s $150,000 contribution will come from either a road and bridge fund or money generated through a sales tax.

He said the allocation for the study will impact the county’s capital improvement plan, requiring reprioritization of funds.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Voted to accept a High Risk Rural Roads Program grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation for a County Road 5 safety improvement project.

The grant will provide 90% of the funding for the project, or $1.429 million, in fiscal year 2023. The county has committed to pay $206,000 for the project.

• Approved an agreement with the city of Easton regarding road maintenance. The county has agreed to maintain the surface of 231st Street, or County Road 21, within the city limits.

• Approved minimum requirements for homeowner association agreements concerning maintenance of cross access easements within private subdivisions.

• Approved a development agreement with the Basehor-Linwood school district regarding the construction of a roadway in conjunction with a new elementary school at Stillwell and Linwood roads.

The agreement was approved 4-1 with Commissioner Jeff Culbertson voting against it.