By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutchinson City Manager Jeff Cantrell said no matter what the city council decides on the Woodie Seat Freeway project, he expects the public to continue to have input throughout the process.
"I think we'll come up with a pretty cohesive concept as to what we are going to do," Cantrell said Monday. "Really, the biggest input on that from the residents is going to happen during any construction design phase. For us right now, it's hard to bring design to the table that gives specifics like landscaping or berming or features like that. That typically happens later on."
City staff will present the options that the council saw in a study session again Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at Avenue A school as part of the regular SW Bricktown neighborhood meeting, though any Hutchinson resident is welcome to come.
"I think if we propose a design that is sustainable, we stand a really good chance," Cantrell said. "If we went to them and we showed them a design of the existing bridge structures without any changes to those, I don't think we would...hard to say, really, but I don't think we would be awarded."
In order to stay on schedule to potentially get KDOT grant money for this project in this cycle, the council will need to make a decision in February. Given that timeframe, it's likely that a plan to put traffic down on surface streets at Avenue F wouldn't be able to get an answer from the railroads involved in a timely manner, even if the council wanted to go that direction.
"I used to think KDOT took a very long time to get a response from," Cantrell said. "Probably, in the spectrum of things, they are very prompt, compared to a railroad. Railroad response takes a long time. Even when everybody's on the same page and wants the same outcome, it just takes a very long time."
Cantrell said on the Cow Creek drainage project, as an example, the railroads are looking for multiple crossing closures in exchange for allowing necessary bridge work. It's hard to know how many crossings the city would have to let be closed to offset the Woodie Seat traffic, if that option were ultimately chosen.