City Council debates project involving county road

A Topeka City Council Member says an almost $6 million project is outdated and should not be done by the city.

We first told you Wednesday night, about the project that would widen Southwest 21st Street from Urish to Indian Hill Road. Voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase back in 2004 to pay for the project. But now, the city is looking to see if they are required to go through with it.

Nicolette Schleisman tells us why some say the project should not happen.

“We continually maintain roads on the edge of our community, but we neglect the core of our community,” said Councilmember Chad Manspeaker.

A $5.7 million expansion of a county road, the City of Topeka is slated to lead the project, set to begin in 2015. The work would happen on Southwest 21st Street from Urish to Indian Hills Road.

“Spending 5.7 million dollars on a road project that was decided 10 years ago doesn’t necessarily make the best sense at this point in time, I think if the voters were given the opportunity to speak again, they would probably agree,” said Manspeaker.

City Council Members first brought up the issue on Tuesday. A vote on how to move forward was deferred.

“What happens with this 5.7 million dollars – we don’t know yet, once legal gets back and explains what they think can and can’t be done with it, then we will know,” said Manspeaker.

But the county says, even if the city does not want it to happen, the project will be done.

“Credibility means everything to us, and that’s why it’s going to get done,” said Tom Vlach, Shawnee County Director of Public Works.

“I think it’s typical of the county to represent only the folks that live in the county and not worry about the people who live in the city,” said Manspeaker.

Council members think the money could be best used elsewhere.

“My argument is, lets refocus our efforts and make sure we’re doing the best we can for every part of our city, not just the peripheries,” said Manspeaker.

The city is still weighing their options before they take it to a council vote.

The Council is scheduled to vote on the future of the project at their March 4th meeting.

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