Flatiron Drive fixes in the works

Brent Bennett of Nelson Engineering looks over the plans for Flatiron Drive, the first of three streets on a list to be repaired. The street will be resurfaced and improved with funds from the sixth-penny specific purpose tax.

Flatiron Drive is in poor condition, littered with potholes and chunks of loose asphalt. But that’s all going to change thanks to Johnson County voters, who approved a 1 percent specific purpose tax.

Flatiron Drive improvements are estimated to cost around $3.2 million, which excludes water and sewer, which was replaced a few years ago. It will be the first of three streets Buffalo plans to repair this year.

Brent Bennett of Nelson Engineering said a team of locaters have been out locating the pipes and waterlines under the surface, as well as gathering other information needed to begin detailed plans on the other two streets, West Fetterman Street from its intersection with Burritt Avenue to Fort Street, at an estimated cost of $3.1 million, and Burritt Avenue from Angus Street to Fort Street, with an estimated cost of $761,000.

During this design phase, Bennett and his teams have gathered soil composition samples, grade information and thickness of road bases and concrete.

“We’re at the stage where we are looking at that information,” Bennett said. “We survey the entire road to give us a topographical surface of the existing road.”

With that information, Bennett said, he can design a road to fit the needs of the city; areas that may receive heavy amounts of rainwater may be given extra drainage and high-traffic roads may receive more durable building materials.

Once the streets are designed, the bidding process for the road construction will begin. Bennett said bidding may begin as soon as April. Right now, Bennett is unsure if the bidding will be done as one, two or even three separate projects.

“The goal is to get them all designed and ready for this year,” Bennett said. “As we go through the process, we’ll work with the city and figure out the best approach to keep it competitive and get the best cost.”

Last year, then Buffalo Mayor Mike Johnson lobbied throughout Buffalo to inform voters about the 1 percent specific purpose tax, also known as the sixth-penny tax. Johnson said the No. 1 complaint  he heard from city residents was how bad the roads are throughout the city. He emphasized to his constituents that the tax is a temporary and necessary cost to fix Buffalo’s aging streets.

Starting April 1, the sixth-penny tax will raise the sales tax in Johnson County from 5 to 6 percent, according to County Treasurer Carla Bishop. Bishop estimates the sixth-penny tax will be in place for approximately five years to pay for the streets.

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