Garden City is a growing, changing community, and that’s not limited to its population. From an extensive concrete reconstruction project on the U.S. Highway 50/83 bypass to updated and expanded exhibits at Lee Richardson Zoo to a new park, there are some big changes to be on the lookout for in 2019.

A reminder from Neighborhood and Development Director Kaleb Kentner: all projects’ construction timelines could be delayed by unexpected weather issues.

“I don’t know that everyone will be happy about everything, but it’s definitely progress that’s happening and new things happening,” he said.

The bypass

Residents will likely be most affected this year by the Kansas Department of Transportation’s U.S. Highway 50/83 bypass project, which will shut down portions of the road from Third Street to Fulton Street later this year.

The project, which will replace decades-old concrete and complete minor repairs on the Mary Street bridge and certain intersections, will be set to bid on Feb. 20, meaning specifics are still to be decided, said Lisa Knoll, KDOT public affairs manager. A specific cost for the project has not yet been determined and KDOT Area Engineer Gary Bennett declined to provide an estimate, but save for a $100,000 city-funded reconstruction of the Spruce Street and bypass intersection, the project will be completely funded by the state. The city will provide the $100,000 through federal funds.

But, the 180-day project will shut down the bypass in essentially three phases: from Third Street to the nearby gas station and truck stop entrance for 30 days, from the gas station and truck stop to the Kansas Highway 156, or Kansas Avenue, interchange, and from the interchange to Fulton Street, skipping over the already-updated Schulman Avenue intersection, Bennett said.

In addition to completing extensive re-pavement work, the project will widen and install a turn lane off the bypass onto Campus Drive, which should speed up traffic on that section, Knoll said.

Traffic that passes under the bypass on Mary Street and Kansas Avenue will be unaffected during construction, Bennett said.

Several other city road projects slated for 2020, including widening a section of Kansas Avenue and the reconstruction of Jennie Barker Road, are dependent on the bypass’ November deadline, Curran said.

“We need to try to keep the interruption of the traffic, but also to those businesses, we want to try and keep it to a minimum. They say get in and stay in and get out and stay out. (We want to) get it done and try to keep the inconvenience to a minimum,” Bennett said.

The order in which the phases will be conducted has not yet been decided, Knoll said.

Bennett said construction likely will begin in late March or early April and run through Nov. 22. At that point, the full bypass will open, though final work will continue through Dec. 20, he said.

In the meantime, detour routes will send normal bypass traffic, including semi trucks and wide loads through Garden City, specifically down North Taylor Avenue and along Kansas Avenue during the north bypass shutdowns, and along East Kansas Avenue and down South Campus Drive during the south shutdown.

The change in traffic will be noticeable, said Kentner and Garden City Public Works Director Sam Curran.

The amount of congestion during the city’s normal 5 p.m. rush may be constant along detoured roads, Kentner said.

And Campus Drive may not be up for the frequent truck traffic, Curran said. The city is in talks with KDOT now to work out an agreement for state repairs to the road after the bypass project, he said.

“That will probably affect as much of Garden City as any project,” Curran said.

KDOT will update the public regularly about the project before and during construction, Knoll said. The department will hold public meetings, one of which will be shortly after the Feb. 20 bid date, and residents can follow the KDOT Southwest Kansas Facebook and Twitter pages for more information, she said.

Pioneer Pathway

Almost three years after KDOT originally approved it, the Pioneer Pathway, a straight-shot, east-west walking trail that will connect Third Street to Campus Drive, will become one of the city’s first construction projects of the year.

The project was mostly delayed due to issues in buying the property, which the city secured in January 2018, Kentner said.

The $796,400 project will run north of Pioneer Road and parallel to a ditch north of the Stone Addition, ultimately connecting neighborhoods near Valley View Cemetery and Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center to Garden City High School, Kentner said.

The project could break ground as early as March and finish as early as July, but also may be pushed back to a June-to-September timeline, Curran said.

Lee Richardson Zoo sales tax projects

The zoo will begin three projects this year, all paid for by the city’s 0.3-percent sales-tax hike, which began in April 2018. All projects will break ground by the end of June and be completed by late April or early May 2020, said Kristi Newland, zoo director.

According to project summaries from the city, the zoo's animal health facility will be expanded and remodeled to keep up with regulatory agencies’ expectations and will include a new quarantine holding space for new animal arrivals. The project is estimated to be slightly over $1 million.

The primate exhibit west of the aviary will be expanded into a larger, more naturalistic habitat, replacing the current barn, holding building and habitat. The new space will include two outdoor yards for small- to medium-sized primates and indoor habitat, both open to public viewing, along with a smaller, off-exhibit holding area. It will allow guests to see primates even when they need to stay inside during cold or bad weather, Newland said. The project will cost approximately $1.6 million.

The flamingo exhibit also will be updated with a new holding building, including a barn with an indoor pool, a fenced, outdoor exhibit habitat for flamingoes and wooden viewing deck for guests. The project will cost approximately $506,000.

The zoo will be open with normal hours during the construction, though the updated facilities will be closed and blocked off during the work and some walking paths might need detours, Newland said. The flamingos and swans will be moved to an off-exhibit holding area on zoo grounds during construction, and the zoo’s lemurs will vacation at the Sedgwick County Zoo, she said. The zoo’s spider monkey already has been sold to the Phoenix Zoo, but the zoo hopes to bring more lemurs to the new exhibit, she said.

“We’re hoping it encourages the connection between the animals and the people to encourage conservation of wildlife and wild places. It will give folks a more enjoyable zoo,” Newland said.

Housing developments

Private projects also will change Garden City’s landscape this year, particularly in regards to housing. With seven new housing divisions expected to break ground within the next 90 days and be completed within three to four months, the city will see more residential projects being platted at once than it has in the last 15 to 20 years, Kentner said.

With the Chappel Heights Addition subdivision in the 4100 block of Mary Street, East Cambridge III off Susan Street, Hamptons Addition phases two and three in the 2800 block of Jennie Barker Road, the Columbus Addition in the 1800 block of Joe McGraw Street, the Northborough First Addition in the 3200 block of North Third Street and a sanitary line extension to a development in the 300 block of West Cambell Street, the city will see nearly 600 new housing units built in homes and duplexes.

Kentner said construction timelines are ultimately up to the contractors building the properties.

Sports of the World

Depending on several factors, the Sports of the World complex, a multi-use sports facility funded by the STAR bond project, may begin construction at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020, Kentner said.

The city’s development agreement for the more than $30 million project dictates that construction must begin no later than January 2020.

The complex is expected to include two full-size or six partial indoor soccer fields, four multi-use basketball courts, an indoor trampoline park, two indoor baseball cages, and four outdoor volleyball, pickle ball and cornhole courts. The facility also is expected to include tournament or conference amenities, including indoor seating for the soccer and basketball courts, breakout conference rooms, locker rooms and event rooms, along with other features, like an ice rink that may be added during the second phase of construction.

What else?

The city also is planning on taking on several other projects in 2019.

Public works has already begun installing initial infrastructure, including a parking lot, drainage and irrigation systems, grass and possibly a hill for sledding, to what may become Garden City’s second largest park in the southeast corner of town near the intersection of Susan and Spruce street, which Curran said is an underserved area of town. Throughout 2019 and 2020, the city will hold community meetings to determine features the public wants in the park. Ideally, the park will become another hub for large community events, Curran said.

The city will begin updating Valley View Cemetery’s irrigation system near the end of 2019 through the beginning of 2020, switching from a system potentially as old as the cemetery itself to one that will draw from city well water instead of drinking water and ultimately conserve water, Curran said. Some grass areas may be torn up, and the city will have to work around funerals, but no graves will be disturbed, he said.

Throughout the year and potentially through 2020, the city will complete an approximately $45,000 landscaping and city beautification project on some unused city land at the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Sixth Street. The unbudgeted project will move along as funding is available and may draw from the liquor tax or Parks Department fund, Curran said.

2020 and beyond

Looking to the future, the city will move towards other projects. Besides the Jennie Barker Road reconstruction and Kansas Avenue widening, Farmland Road will be widened in 2020 and 2021 and downtown Eighth Street will see significant upgrades in 2021. Construction will begin on the Police Department’s gun range in 2021 and on the city’s third fire station in 2024, both sales tax projects.

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.