Portions of Ash Street, Elm Street and Fourth Street near Lewis Field Stadium will get a $1.64 million facelift starting this summer.

The Hays City Commission Thursday evening agreed to hire Driggs Design Group P.A. for engineering services related to the design and reconstruction of the streets. Driggs had the low bid of $39,185.

Driggs’ bid was about half as much as two other bids. The company has offices in Hays, Manhattan and Emporia.

“Typically, what’s the percentage of the overall project costs that goes towards engineering,” asked Mayor James Meier, “on something like this?”

Kirkham, Michael and Associates Inc., Ellsworth, bid $89,000, and Sloan Engineering and Consulting, Hays, bid $92,100.

Normally engineering and design would be in the 3- to 5-percent range, said City Project Manager John Braun, who outlined the project to the Hays City Commission at its regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.

“That’s what I was thinking, so based off of that I’m looking at a little under an $800,000 project,” Meier said. “Am I getting my hopes up prematurely? Does that mean our bids will come in a lot lower than $1.64?”

Braun said no, that the city is getting an economical price from the firm led by Buck Driggs and with an office in Hays at 2819 Plaza Ave.

“Driggs Design Group has proved to be quite competitive with other engineering firms, using low overhead,” Braun said. “We haven’t had any horror stories. Projects of this nature, he excels in. This is his wheelhouse, so I think he likes doing work in Hays and it’s reflected in his bid prices, and you’ll see that in comparison to the other engineering prices in that they were more in the expected range, and his are lower.”

The purpose of the project is to replace the existing concrete and asphalt pavement on the streets with eight inches of concrete pavement. Any failed curb and gutter will also be replaced, as well as sidewalks and driveway approaches disturbed by the construction.

The old four-inch water main along Ash Street also will be upgraded to eight-inch pipe, Braun said, as well as new storm water inlets installed.

 The project may be ready to bid by March, he said, with construction starting first on Elm. That street could be finished over the summer when Fort Hays State University is on break, he said.

 The width of the roads will stay the same, but intersections will be improved, particularly at Fifth and Elm streets.

 “The existing curb radius, if we pull it back, that will open up the intersection a little bit and give more room for traffic,” he said. “Currently it’s a 25-foot radius, and we’d be pulling it back to a 30-foot radius.”

 Elm Street is 29 feet wide, back to back, with parking on the west side, and nine-foot driving lanes. Fourth Street is 40 feet back to back with parallel parking on both sides. Ash is 30 feet wide with parking on both sides, he said.

 The project covers 3,100 linear feet, including a portion of Elm, which carries about 1,700 to 2,900 vehicles a day.

The commissioners previously had asked about crash history for the project area. Braun reported that in the last four years, from January 2014 to December 2017, there were 13 crashes.

Most were along Elm Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Of the 13, four were moving vehicle crashes, including one head-on crash at Fifth and Elm streets and a rear-end crash. Four were sideswipes of parked cars, and five were vehicles backing out of drives and hitting an adjacent parked car, he said.

Fort Hays State University is interested in converting parallel parking to angle parking along the west side of Elm between Fourth Street and Lewis Drive, which will add eight parking spaces to the 10 that are already there, Braun said.

The university would pay the cost for the additional pavement, he said.

In other business, the city commissioners approved a request for the Hays American Legion Post 173 for annexation of a .68 parcel of ground north of Interstate 70.

The land is on the east side of U.S. Highway 183, behind the former Hays Livestock Market Center, and is owned by Ellis County farmer Lester Gross.

The American Legion has the tract under contract for purchase to build a new building for its membership, said Post 173 Commander Brian Roe.