Commissioners review gateway study

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A study that looked at a proposal for constructing a second Missouri River bridge in Leavenworth County estimates the project could cost more than $250 million.

During a Leavenworth County Commission meeting Wednesday, Bill Noll, director of infrastructure and construction services for the county, reviewed the results of a concept study for what is referred to as the Eastern Gateway project. The study was performed by consultants with TranSystems, Kansas City, Missouri.

“This is not the final study,” Noll said.

He said Wednesday’s presentation offered commissioners the opportunity to provide input before receiving the final study.

He said the study looked at routes for connecting the Leavenworth and Lansing area to Missouri 152 Highway in Platte County, Missouri. Such a project would require a bridge across the Missouri River.

The study offered two preferred alternatives, both of which connect to Eisenhower Road on the Kansas side of the project. One is referred to in the study as the north alternative. The other is referred to as the south alternative.

Noll said the north alternative allows more direct access to Missouri 152 Highway, but it does not allow for extra connections to Mary Street or Gilman Road. He said the other route does allow for these extra connections.

Noll said the north alternative requires a longer bridge.

The estimated cost for the north alternative is $301.3 million. The estimated cost for the south alternative is $253.9 million.

The study also includes estimates for including a shared-use path. Noll referred to this as a bike path, which he said may be helpful in acquiring federal funding for the project.

Inclusion of a shared-use path increases the cost estimate of the north alternative to $306.7 million and the estimate for the south alternative to $260.8 million.

The study also includes cost estimates for additional connections to Mary Street ($25.3 million) and Gilman Road ($27.6 million).

County commissioners are not proposing to replace the Centennial Bridge, which extends from Metropolitan Avenue in north Leavenworth to Platte County, Missouri. Commissioners propose the Eastern Gateway project as a second bridge for Leavenworth County.

County Commissioner Jeff Culbertson, who has advocated for the project, said the population of Leavenworth County justifies two bridges for the county.

“I don’t see how we don’t warrant two bridges,” he said.

Culbertson argued the second bridge would provide an alternative route if the Centennial Bridge has to be closed for a period of time.

Culbertson also argued the Eastern Gateway project would provide quicker access to other parts of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which would help with economic development in Leavenworth County.

“It just makes sense,” he said of the project.

Culbertson said he intends to put together a committee “to try to get this thing off the ground.”

Culbertson said he would like for the committee to include representatives from Leavenworth, Lansing and the county as well as the state and federal level. He also suggested having representation from organizations such as the Leavenworth County Port Authority, Leavenworth County Development Corporation and the Mid-America Regional Council.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Voted to accept an estimate from Astrophysics, City of Industry, California, in the amount of $57,158 for the purchase of security equipment. Commissioners also authorized Aaron Yoakam, buildings and grounds superintendent, to sign for the purchase. The equipment will be used at the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

• Received a briefing about a proposed schedule for issuing general obligation sales tax bonds.

• Met behind closed doors for two executive sessions.

The first executive session was for consultation with legal counsel and lasted one hour.

The second executive session was for the purpose of discussing property acquisition and lasted about 23 minutes.