Hedge Lane will not be renamed Victory Lane.
But it could be coined as such for being the site of the final project in a staggering number of road and bridge improvements funded through the county’s quarter-cent sales tax since its inception in 2001.
The $1.6 million Hedge Lane bridge project — spanning South Wea Creek, south of 311th Street — represented the last bridge to be built with a quarter-cent sales tax voters approved in 2001. The new quarter-cent sales tax kicks in next year.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the north end of the bridge Oct. 21, County Commission Chairman Rob Roberts talked about the history of the quarter-cent sales tax, which has contributed to more than 35 Road and Bridge projects in the past two decades.
The tax generated nearly $16.7 million during the 20-year run and helped the county secure about $14.4 million from other sources.
Roberts thanked Miami County residents for approving the sales tax and entrusting the county to fulfill its promises on how the money would be spent. Raising a program listing quarter-cent sales tax projects in his right hand, Roberts said he was happy to report the county kept its promise.
“I thought it was well attended, and I appreciate the opportunity really to share with the public the success of our quarter-cent sales tax,” Roberts said after the ribbon-cutting.
Signs of the tax’s success are visible across the county, including the Osawatomie Main Street revitalization project, the 223rd Street railroad underpass near Spring Hill, the Kansas Highway 68 and Metcalf Road intersection in Louisburg, and the just completed Hedge Lane bridge near Paola.
The sales tax also has provided more than $3.1 million for roadway improvements in Paola, Osawatomie, Louisburg and Spring Hill. It also has helped the county capture $1.8 million in federal and state grant funds, according to county figures.
In addition to the county’s four largest communities, the sales tax paid for street asphalt overlay work in Fontana, according to the county.
During each five-year cycle of the quarter-cent sales tax, the cities of Paola, Osawatomie, Spring Hill and Louisburg all have received $500,000.
The city of Louisburg plans to use the $500,000 it receives from the tax to help fund its share of a joint city-county project called Metcalf 2.0 which will make substantial improvements to that busy thoroughfare.
The Metcalf Road project — estimated to cost $4.6 million — covers 4,850 feet, from Amity Street (Kansas Highway 68) to 287th Street in Louisburg. The project is slated to be funded by a $3.1 million federal grant from the Mid-America Regional Council, with the remaining necessary funding split equally between the city and the county.
Paola, Osawatomie and Spring Hill also have been supportive of the tax for improvement projects. The city of Osawatomie, for example, used its $500,000 to make improvements to its Main Street as well as help fund other projects.
Osawatomie Mayor Mark Govea spoke in favor of the quarter-cent sales tax when it was put before voters in November 2019. Voters approved another five-year cycle of the tax, which will begin in 2021.
“This tax has been very beneficial with several of our infrastructure needs, most recently the Main Street and 343rd Street reconstruction and Creamery (Bridge) rehabilitation,” Govea said. “City infrastructure is always an issue for all cities. It seems to be easily forgotten and not typically as popular as new projects.”
Signs of the quarter-cent sales tax’s success have been celebrated by county and city officials and the public through the years.
Logan York said he was pleased to see the “road closed” signs come down in September near the Spring Valley Road bridge west of Louisburg. The bridge reopened just in time for the pumpkin-picking season.
“I was really glad to see it open,” York, one of the Powell Pumpkin Patch owners, said in mid-September 2019. “The new bridge looks good.”
The wider bridge, funded by the quarter-cent sales tax, also is no longer limited to three tons, which will enable the family to move farm equipment without having to take the long way around.
County Commissioner George Pretz, who represents Osawatomie, had the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon to mark the reopening of the newly restored, nationally registered Creamery Bridge in July 2013.
The 1930-built historic Marsh Arch bridge on Eighth Street in Osawatomie was funded through the quarter-cent sales tax.
“I really want to thank the county for their efforts in restoring this bridge,” former Osawatomie City Councilman Ted Hunter said. “It gives the farmers of Stanton and Miami Township access to the city,” he said, then drew laughter when he added, “and it gives the golfers of Osawatomie easy access to the golf course.”
The quarter-cent sales tax initiative, and the structures it has funded, has generated recognition from admirers outside of the county.
Miami County received an award in November 2011 for a grade separation project during the construction of the 223rd Street railroad underpass. The county earned the 2011 Kansas Public Improvement Award (PIA) for counties in the 10,000 and above population category.
County projects completed with quarter-cent sales tax funding since 2001:
- Old KC Road near Hillsdale, bridge replacements
- Jingo Road asphalt overlay
- Broadway Bridge replacement
- Jenson Drive bridge replacement
- John Brown Highway and Pressonville Road intersection
- Bull Creek bridge rehabilitation
- 295th Street and Metcalf Road intersection improvements
- 223rd Street railroad underpass
- Bridge rehabilitation on Old KC Road north of Osawatomie
- 287th Street and Old KC Road intersection reconstruction
- Bridge replacement on Osawatomie Road north of 375th Street
- Culvert replacement on 271st Street west of Jingo Road
- Bridge deck replacement on Hedge Lane over Middle Creek
- Bridge replacement on 255th Street west of Columbia Road
- Bridge rehabilitation on 303rd Street over Bull Creek west of Paola
- Bridge redeck on 247th Street east of Quivira Road
- Bridge rehabilitation of the Eighth Street Creamery Bridge in Osawaotmie.
- Bridge replacement on Hedge Lane south of 311th Street
- Bridge replacement on 223rd Street east of Cedar Niles Road
- Bridge replacement on Plum Creek Road south of 399th Street
- Bridge replacement on Spring Valley Road south of 255th Street
- Bridge replacement on 263rd Street east of Somerset