Eminent domain proceedings against three Vine Street landowners was settled out of court this month, clearing the way for the state to prepare taking bids on the city’s $9.3 million roundabout project.

An agreed order for dismissal of the eminent domain procedure was filed in Ellis County District Court on Jan. 24, with the document saying the parties involved agreed to “mutually agreeable” compensation for property needed for rights of way and easements.

A hearing had been set for Tuesday in Ellis County District Court to appoint appraisers but was called off because of the settlement.

“We were able to negotiate a settlement out of court with all of those property owners prior to the court date, so we didn’t have to have the condemnation hearing,” said John Braun, the city’s project manager.

The city began eminent domain proceedings with a resolution passed Nov. 14. That included four tracts at 3603 Vine, a lot where the Ambassador Hotel used to stand, owned by Abel Lodging, Joshua Joseph and Mark Augustine; two tracts at the Super 8, 3730 Vine, owned by Jay Hospitality; and two tracts at the Golden Ox, 3610 Vine, owned by CC of Hays and Chuck Patel.

A settlement was reached Nov. 25 with a fourth property owner for land at the Pheasant Run, 3201 Vine.

The city had authorized $390,000 in September to buy 19 parcels of land along Vine and 37th and Skyline for easements and rights of way, and authorized another $339,682 at the Dec. 26 meeting for a total of almost $729,702.

With the land acquisition settled, the project is now in the hands of the Kansas Department of Transportation, Braun said.

KDOT will estimate the cost and details, such as how many construction days are needed for the construction contract.

“They’re developing the contract documents, the actual documents that go out to bid. They’ll probably advertise that I believe the last week in February,” Braun said.

KDOT will likely open the bids toward the end of March, he said.

“We wouldn’t anticipate construction to actually start until probably May or even the first of June,” he said.

Construction is expected to take two years.

“We will do our best to make sure everybody has access at all times,” Braun said.

Unfortunately, Braun said, the project will not be able to wait until the county finishes plans for the $10.8 million Northwest Business Corridor, which will improve three heavily traveled roads in an industrial area northwest of Hays. The project would effectively extend the US-183 Highway Bypass to the north of the city.

That project is expected to begin in mid-2021.

“It’d be nice if the Northwest Business Corridor was in before this roundabout project, but with the funding mechanisms and federal dollars and the programming of everything, it’s just not possible,” Braun said.

Both the city and county received grants from the federal Department of Transportation of more than $6 million each for their projects.

Braun said he expects to give the city commissioners an update on the process at the March 5 work session.