?Pardon the dust? / Hillsboro residents will see numerous major projects addressed this summer

? Projects represent a $14 million investment.

Among the projects in Hillsboro on tap for summer transformation will be the addition of turning lanes at the intersection of North Adams and U.S. Highway 56

Hillsboro City Admini?strator Larry Paine is thinking about putting this wel?come sign at the city limits as summer arrives.

?Pardon our dust. We?re under construction.?

Between the city, local school district and Tabor College, residents and visitors can expect no fewer than six significant infrastructure projects to begin in the coming months.

?I?m half joking about the construction sign, but when it starts going, that?d be kind of fun,? Paine said.

The six projects represent a total investment of $1.076 million dollars, but will require only $266,860 in local taxpayer dollars. The rest of the funding comes from grants and, for at least one project, private donations.

Beyond those scheduled projects, Tabor College plans to begin site preparation this summer for the start of construction of its $13 million fine arts center in fall, and the city is awaiting word on a Community Development Block Grant application for a sidewalk project valued at just under $350,000, with the city paying a 10 percent share.

Those two projects increase the total investment to roughly $14 million with local dollars totaling just over $300,000.

?I don?t know of any other place that?s doing that sort of thing on the scale that we?ve got,? Paine said of the summer projects list. ?Big cities, oh yeah. Small cities, no.?

Scheduled projects

Depending on the weather, two of the six scheduled projects could be underway this week. Both projects are school-related.

? Elementary school playground. With the announcement last week that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has awarded the project a grant of $48,674, USD 410 is preparing to upgrade or rebuild both playgrounds.

Among the projects in Hillsboro on tap for summer transformation will be the reconstruction of the elementary school playgrounds. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressThe school?s west playground, used by the youngest students, will see the pea-gravel surface replaced with shredded rubber; the north playground will be a total reconstruction.

Instead of the rutted, mostly dirt surface that is unusable following most rains, the north playground will have a rubberized poured-in-place surface with several new pieces of play equipment.

Construction was to begin as soon as school was out. The project is expected to cost $215,000.

The district has designated $95,000 for the project, but the remainder was generated with donations and grants through a fundraising effort led by HES parents.

?It will enthrall some kids, and whether it will bring a new family here, I doubt it,? HES principal Evan Yoder said of the project. ?But if we can get kids enthused about school and make recess a fun time to go out and play in a safe environment, that just enhances the whole educational experience.?

Officials expect the project to be completed in time for the start of school.

Among the projects in Hillsboro on tap for summer transformation will be the pouring of sidewalks for Safe Routes to School. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press? Safe Routes to School. Initiated and fund?ed by the Kansas Depart?ment of Transporta?tion, this project will provide 6-foot sidewalks along a designated route that begins at the elementary school on the east side of town and ends at Floral Drive on the west side.

It also includes a four-block stretch along the west side of Main Street from D to A streets.

The project, a partnership between USD 410 and the city, received a $250,000 KDOT grant in 2013. Con?struc?tion is expected to begin June 1 and be completed before the start of school.

? Main Street seal coat. About mid-June, several stretches of city streets will be receiving a routine chip-seal procedure to increase longevity at a cost of $116,500.

The most noticeable component of the project, though, will be along Main Street between B and Second streets, plus the two blocks of Grand Avenue, where the chip seal will be overlayed with an Axys mastic surface treatment.

Among the projects in Hillsboro on tap for summer transformation will be applying an aesthetically pleasing seal coat on the downtown business district streets.  Don Ratzlaff / Free PressPaine said when the project is finished, the downtown business district will have a ?remarkably fresh look? with black-surfaced streets.

?That goes back to an investment we made 10-15 years ago,? Paine said of the downtown project. ?But it?s a thing we do in the normal budget process that says if people invest in us, we?ve got to take care of it.?

? Airport seal coat. Similar to the street project, though less visible to the general public, the asphalt areas of the city?s airport, including the runway, will be receiving a seal coat at a cost of $101,626.

Ninety percent of the project will be covered with a KDOT aviation grant. The remaining 10 percent will be paid by the city.

A group of volunteers from an area flying club will supply the labor to paint the pavement markings after the seal coat has been applied.

? Highway turn lanes. Also slated for a June start is the project to add turn lanes at the intersection of North Adams Street and U.S. 56 Highway.

The $335,265 project, funded entirely by KDOT, is expected to enhance the safety of drivers exiting and entering the highway at Adams.

? Repairing the small water tower. Although the start date is yet to be determined, the city?s small water tower off Ash Street will finally receive needed repairs this summer.

Among the projects in Hillsboro on tap for summer transformation will be the repair of the city?s small water tower, including replacing the top cover that blew off in a windstorm in September 2014. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressThe entire project will cost $159,360 but will be offset with a $103,500 grant through the state?s Heritage Trust Fund. The city originally applied for the grant to make routine repairs to the tower?s tank.

The scope of the project grew when strong winds blew the cover off the top of tower in September 2014.

?That?s going to have a lot of mobilization around it,? Paine said. ?We?ve got to get up there and into the tank because there?s repair that will be done inside and outside to cover up the holes that were originally there. Plus, we have to add new gusset plates to hold the new cover.?

Project possibilities

At its May 19 meeting, the city council was told by grant administrator Rose Mary Saunders that the city?s application for a CDBG grant of up to $314,775 for the $349,750 sidewalk project has a ?favorable? chance to be accepted.

But the Kansas Depart?ment of Com?merce won?t announce the grant awards until mid-July.

The sidewalks would be installed along the two most recent street-replacement projects: First Street, from Adams to Main; and Birch, Cedar and Date streets, from Grand Avenue to D Street.

?The best part about it is, because we?ve had the CDBG project for First Street and Birch, Cedar, Date (street projects), the wage surveys we have are still valid. We don?t have to go back and requalify for that project area. It?s already qualified.?

Even if Hillsboro receives the grant, it could be late summer or fall before construction could begin?perhaps as late as 2016, depending how quickly the engineering phase can be completed, Paine said.

Another project prospect is the start of construction on the long-awaited facility for Hillsboro Community Hospital, presented as a $10 million project when it was first proposed in 2007.

Paine said he is confident enough that the project will be moving forward that he has freed the electrical department to begin laying electrical line in the direction of the proposed site at the intersection of U.S. 56.

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