The Reno County Commission was unmoved Tuesday by the request to expand the shoulders for the planned replacement bridge on East 43rd Avenue east of Old Highway 61.

The request came a year late, as County Commissioner Bob Bush saw it.

The price tag also deterred commissioners.

Commissioner Dan Deming said he was “having a hard time” concluding that an additional foot of shoulder on either side was worth $100,000. That is the estimated overall expense for engineering and construction of a bridge with five feet of shoulder on either side, not the intended four feet.

There are no shoulders now on the bridge, and the plan for four-foot-wide shoulders already ensures the future bridge will be wider, Deming pointed out.

Vitality Team of Reno County requested five-foot-wide shoulders to accommodate better bicyclists and pedestrians. Members noted the proximity of Hutchinson’s Rivers Banks Orchard Park and residential growth in that area.

“I guess I’m a little disappointed at where we’re at,” Vitality Team’s Steve Drach told commissioners.

The new bridge could be in place for the next 75 years, and Vitality Team’s Bob Updegraff urged commissioners to think of the long-term consequences. Traffic in the area will increase, and commissioners have a “one-shot deal” to install five-foot-wide shoulders, Updegraff said. A four-foot-wide shoulder is really a three-foot-wide shoulder, he also said, because debris collects at the edge.

The overall change could have added $100,000 to the project, estimated at $1,672,900. The new bridge will replace a timber bridge over railroad tracks along Old Highway 61 and Union Pacific will have to approve the bridge design. Reno County Public Works Director Dave McComb said the project likely will go out for bids in 2019. McComb also said the combined estimate for bridge projects exceeds anticipated revenues. 

Vitality Team was “a year too late” in asking for the added foot, Bush said, noting that the bridge has been discussed for months. He also said people who live in the area have not raised that issue with him.

Commission Chairman Ron Hirst asked Vitality Team members if they had talked to the township because the approximately 24-foot-wide roadway heading east from the bridge effectively has no shoulders. The answer was no. 

McComb and Vitality Team members will talk before the bridge is built about possible signing and striping that could make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.