The City of Dodge City held a public meeting Thursday to discuss the proposed improvements to Comanche Street, as well as to address any questions or concerns from the public.
"We've had a few work sessions with the City Commissioners that the public was invited to attend, but this is the first open house we've held," Ray Slattery, director of engineering services for the city, said. "This is just a way for the public to come to us and have their questions about the project answered."
City officials, and BHC Rhodes have been working together for the past several months to design a plan to expand Comanche Street from 14th Ave. out to Highway 50. The plan proposes a four-lane road with a median divide, expanding the current road from 24 feet to 74 feet. The new road will include two 12-foot lanes on both sides of a 20-21 foot median and about five feet of curbing and gutters on each side. Once completed, Comanche will connect to the highway across from the entrance to the casino.
The traffic light already in place at that intersection will continue to operate, with some adjustments to allow for more traffic.
"We're hoping that this expansion will help drive traffic from the casino and special events center, to the retail and downtown areas of Dodge," Randy Gorton, project designer for BHC Rhodes said.
The next step in the construction process is for the City Commission to decide how and when they will fund this project.
"Commissioners are getting ready to do budgets for the next fiscal year," Gorton said. "At that time, they'll decide if the Comanche improvements are something they want to budget money for in 2014."
Once the funding is in place, BHC Rhodes will talk to landowners who will be affected by the construction, and work out land acquisition prices. Once all the land has been acquired, construction will finally begin.
Slattery estimates that at least a year will be needed to complete the project.
"We're planning on doing the construction in phases, so portions of Comanche can remain open," he said. "We hope we can do this with as little inconvenience to residents in that area as possible."
Slattery was pleased with the number of people who came to the open house.
"Some landowners had some questions about the project," Slattery said, "but overall I think people are excited about the improvements."
City officials and BHC Rhodes employees were on hand to answer any questions; including how wide the new street will be, what will happen on existing roads and how much land property owners may lose.
"People had questions about the project, of course," Slattery said, "but I think once they understood what we were going to be doing they were pleased."
Page 2 of 2 - For more information about the Comanche Street expansion, contact Slattery at (620) 225-8106.