Following action by the Great Bend City Council Monday night the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip and most of 10th Street could see improvements.
Council members approved the local funding for four Kansas Department of Transportation City Connecting Links Improvement Plan projects along 10th and much needed repairs at the drag racing facility. The total pricetag comes to $3.3 million.
This is a cost-share arrangement with the state and under the agreement, the city will pony up 25% of the construction costs, or about $1.1 million while paying all of the design and engineering expenses, City Administrator Kendal Francis told the council Monday. Funds will come from money the city already has set aside for street construction and economic development, drawn from the city’s sales tax and left-over funds from other projects.
“I feel pretty good about our chances to have this approved,” Francis said.
The application is due Oct. 3. If OKed by KDOT, the dragstrip should be finished by October 2020, while the 10th work is still about two years away, Francis said.
“The state money is coming from a one-time $50 million transfer from the State General Fund to the State Highway Fund approved by the The Kansas Legislature in 2018,” he said. “They are trying to catch up on projects that were underfunded.”
This allowed the use of the funding on transportation projects, but only if cities and counties are willing to offer a match, he said.
Candidate projects should include investments that provide transportation benefits and are not eligible for other KDOT programs. They projects may receive additional consideration if they support economic growth, aid in the retention or recruitment of business, or add value to a KDOT project.
The cost-share program provides financial assistance to local entities for construction projects that improve safety, leverage state funds to increase total transportation investment, and help both rural and urban areas of the state improve the transportation system, he said.
Francis said he believes the city’s proposal fits all the criteria.
Rethinking the proposal
Francis said the original plan was to utilize these funds to do a full-depth concrete replacement of the drag strip and shut-down areas. This alone totaled about $1.5 million.
However, KDOT Deputy Secretary Lindsey Douglas told Francis the application would be better received if it had a transportation component as well.
“So, we refined our application,” he said. He added the four proposed CCLIP projects on 10th (U.S. 56), which have been denied funding for the previous two years.
The city had been looking at just replacing the racing surface at a cost of $700,000, But, “this program would allow us to replace the entire track and shutdown area at the dragstrip, plus mill and overlay nearly all of US-56 (1Oth Street).”
This includes the recently completed Frey to Hickory work, as well as Main to Washington, Harrison to McKinley, McKinley to Kennedy, and Kennedy to Patton Road.
At first, it was Francis’ understanding that the city would have to match 25% of the entire project – engineering, design and construction. The city’s part of all of this would come to $870,166.93.
But, he learned late last week that was not the case, and the state was only matching the construction costs. The bumped up the city’s responsibility to the $1.1 million.
In response, he offered two options to the council. First included the dragstrip a just the two top priority portions of 10th (Frey to Harrison and Kennedy to Patton), and the second included everything.
It was the council’s thinking that it all needs to get done, and this is the best chance. Besides, the money is set aside and the work will span at least two budget years to refill street repair and economic development coffers.
The Kansas Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force recommended this one-time infusion into the transportation budget. This is the same group, formed by the Legislature last year, that supported the continuation of the Northwest Passage project between Nickerson and Sterling.
The programs were announced at the task forces’ consult meeting in Newton last month.