By ROD ZOOK
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The city of Hutchinson is now facing some tough questions as to the future of the Woodie Seat Freeway and how to keep the aging bridges and roadway usable.
This comes after the city was turned down for a grant that would have paid a majority of the $10 million renovation that was planned.
“It will be time for us to review several things, most importantly the condition of the aged infrastructure and really the long-term viability of that infrastructure,” City Manager Jeff Cantrell said. “Regardless of the investment or repairs we make in the interim.”
Cantrell says that the city council and offices will have to be able to look well beyond the present to make a decision on how to proceed with any type of renovation to the freeway.
“I think it's good for everyone to understand what that looks like on a 30-, 40- or 50-year horizon. Maybe that will sway us in another direction,” Cantrell said. “It ‘s certainly going to require local dollars.”
Cantrell says time is running out on doing something to keep the three 60-year-old bridges from becoming a hazard.
“We’re finding ourselves in a tricky position on it,” Cantrell said. “Because the condition (of the bridges) is failing and degrading at a rate that really doesn’t allow us to participate in too many more funding cycles and grants.”
Cantrell says it is very likely that other projects may have to be put on the backburner to fund what is necessary to keep the freeway in good shape.
“Balancing a project of this size into our current debt service outlay . . . it will be troubling for other projects,” Cantrell said. “It could have more implications than that . . . it will definitely have an impact on other projects.”
The matter will go before the city council in the near future.