Mark Taylor
[email protected]
Johnson County Commissioners are no longer considering applying for federal TIGER grant funds for improvements to U.S. 56 Highway and 199th Street as reported last week.
Staff recommended against applying for the grant Feb. 23 due to unforseen costs and time constraints.
Mac Andrew, public works director, said the decision was made after meeting with Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) officials last week.
“We decided that we probably were going for a project that was a lot more expensive than we thought and would take a lot more time to design,” Andrew said.
Andrew told commissioners last week that KDOT identified the need for improvements to that intersection as part of last year’s U.S. 56 Highway Corridor Study.
The preliminary solution is an overpass that would eliminate the at-grade crossing and improve sight issues, access to Mildale Park, and overall traffic efficiency at the intersection as the neighboring intermodal logistics park is set to open in late 2013.
Brian Pietig, of the public works department, added that increased train traffic from the intermodal is expected to block the intersection for about seven hours per day.
Commissioners were told last week the estimated cost of the overpass would be $10 million to $14 million.
A $6.2 million TIGER grant along with a $3.1 million contribution from KDOT and a matching $3.1 from the county would generate $12.4 million in revenue for the project.
Pietig said a 50 percent match was required for the county to remain competitive for the grant.
TIGER awards $500 million nationally. Last year there were more applicants than available funds.
The TIGER application would have required a $48,000 consulting contract.
An estimated $750,000 engineering contract would be required by March 1.
Commissioner Calvin Hayden estimated the county’s odds of receiving the grant at 20 percent.
He said he didn’t believe it was worth risking $48,000 for the application.
“The odds are against us,” he said. “It’s not a good gamble.”