Pott. County pursuing Belvue Bridge grant, approves bid for Hwy. 24/ Green Valley Rd. project

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Belvue Bridge
Pottawatomie County commissioners agreed Monday to pursue a grant in conjunction with Wabaunsee County that could potentially cover the entire cost of the Belvue Bridge project.
If awarded, the grant could pay for about $11 million in improvements to extend the life of the bridge by about 100 years.
However, if the two counties do not get the grant, they will stick with the originally agreed upon $7.5 million project with Pottawatomie County paying for 83 percent and Wabaunsee County covering the rest.
Commissioner Pat Weixelman voted in favor of the grant but expressed frustration with the change in plans.
“Why can’t we stick with a decision and go for it?” Weixelman said. “If the shoe was on the other foot, Wabaunsee County wouldn’t be trying to inflate the price on this because it would make the cost greater to them.”
Weixelman was also concerned about the change potentially increasing engineering costs.
Commissioner Greg Riat says pursuing the grant is “common sense,” since doing so could potentially do a better job than the $7.5 million plan at extending the life of the bridge.
“I guess I don’t understand why we wouldn’t,” Riat said.
The $7.5-million-option would extend the life of the bridge by about 40 years.
The commission approved the move with the condition that Wabaunsee County pay for extra engineering costs not covered by the grant.
Highway 24/Green Valley Rd. intersection project
The Pottawatomie County Commission has awarded a nearly $4 million bid to Ebert Construction for the Hwy. 24/Green Valley Rd. intersection project.
The decision was made upon the Kansas Department of Transportation agreeing to increase its share of the cost by $250,000, bringing its total investment to about $3 million.
While the county has budgeted for its share of the cost, Commissioner Dee McKee says she would like to take advantage of low interest rates by bonding the project.
“The interest rate is about 1.5 percent, we’ve got a good rating and we have other obligations that are going to be coming in the future that shouldn’t take you to the zero,” McKee said.
McKee also wants to avoid using too much money from current funds due to uncertainty about future revenue.
Commissioner Pat Weixelman says he would rather pay out of pocket and not bond projects until doing so is completely necessary.
McKee and Riat voted in favor of awarding the bid.
Weixelman abstained from voting as his family member works for Ebert Construction, creating a conflict of interest.
COVID-19 vaccine
The Pottawatomie County Health Department is preparing to administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to county employees.
Leslie Campbell, Pottawatomie County health director, explains who will be first in line.
“We are to vaccinate ourselves and then emergency services, which is the ambulance services, and then back to the hospitals if we have extra vaccines left over from that, or other healthcare workers throughout the community,” Campbell said.
Campbell says they are currently figuring out who all wants to receive a dose.
Kansas hospitals received their first doses of the vaccine last week.
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