Marion street project should be done for festivals

 Dust was flying on Marion?s Main Street late last week as workers hustle to complete overlay project in time for Art in the Park on Saturday. In less than a week, a portion of Main Street in Marion is expected to have a new, smoother blacktop road thanks to a state resurfacing program known as KLINK.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the program is a cooperative effort with local municipalities and Kansas Department of Transportation.

?This is a mill and overlay of the existing roadbeds designated as Kansas Highway 256 that goes through Marion,? he said.

The goal of the KLINK program is to provide a majority of funding and assistance to resurface Kansas marked highways.

The entire cost of the project was about $257,600.

KLINK, Kjellin said,?paid 75 percent or $200,000 and the city of Marion paid $57,600.

?(Road crews) started working on the project last Monday (Sept. 9) and they finished milling it Thursday,? he said. ?We anticipate the overlay to be done this Thursday.?

Why now?

Kjellin explained why the decision was made to start the KLINK project last week rather than postpone it for another time.

?If we had waited, we couldn?t do it between (Art in the Park) and Old Settlers Day,? he said.

Waiting until October, Kjellin said, could mean cooler temperatures that could limit laying asphalt.

?(The contractor) had a very late start and they know that,? he said. ?We just have to get it done. The weather gets cool, the weather gets wet and then it gets difficult to get it down.?

Addressing confusion

Kjellin also talked about the difference between the KLINK?grant, which the city did receive, and another Kansas Department of Transportation grant the city was not awarded.

Some individuals said they didn?t understand why the city was only doing a mill and overlay and not other enhancement efforts.

?Six months ago, the city applied for a $1 million beatification grant through KDOT,? he said. ?It was for new lights, underground wiring, brick crosswalks and sidewalks.?

It also included a stone and electronic sign with landscaping.

Several communities applied for funding with only a few towns being considered.

Had the city of Marion received the grant, Kjellin said, it would have been 80 percent ($776,220) paid for by the state and 20 percent ($316,500) by the city.

If the KDOT Transportation Enhancement grant was approved, design work would have been completed in the fall and bids would have gone out next spring with the actual project starting in the summer or fall of 2014.

Kjellin said the city can reapply for the grant in March 2014

?If we do try again, the award won?t be until 2015 and not funded until the 2016 year,? he said.

New plans

Mayor Mary Olson confirmed what Kjellin said regarding the $1 million grant that the city did not receive.

Even though the beautification project is on a back burner for now, Olson said, that doesn?t mean people are sitting idle.

?Main Street merchants are working on adding new planters,? she said.

In addition to the PRIDE Committee and its work, Jan Davis, owner of ?Gallery 101 of the Flint Hills,? and Jeanice Thomas, co-coordinator, are also doing projects for the downtown.

?We are continuing to look at beautification plans and what we are doing on our own,? she said. ?I think that may have been a factor (in not getting the enhancement grant).?

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