PITTSBURG — Jim Zibert of Earle’s Engineering & Inspection Inc. spoke at Friday’s Crawford County Commission meeting about work his firm has been doing to assist in planning a sewer line relocation in Franklin the county is responsible for handling as part of the Highway 69 expansion project.

Of two options, one where the project would largely be managed by the Kansas Department of Transportation, and another “where the county controls their destiny” and would also be able to use more local contractors for the work, Zibert said he strongly suggested the second option.

“Inherently on these dang things, KDOT projects, when you’re dealing with them, they deal with highway contractors, that’s the people that get their jobs,” Zibert said. “So if they include the sewer on this project, they’re not sewer people, they’ll sub[contract] it out. And so it’s hard to say who they’ll sub it to. Also when they’re combining things like that, the contractors’ bids will sometimes monkey around on different things, so you’re really not having a lot of control there.”

In response to a question from Commissioner Jeremy Johnson as to whether the recent severe weather would impact the project timeline, Zibert said it would not, as the county is still in its planning phase and the sewer relocation work itself will not begin immediately.

Commissioner Bruce Blair said KDOT had been “trying to sell that they could help us out and make it cheaper” but after meeting recently with the agency, that didn’t seem to be the case. “It was basically saying the opposite,” Blair said.

“I’d rather take this project on on our own and not go the KDOT route,” he added.

After hearing Zibert’s presentation the other commissioners agreed, and approved a motion to go with the second option Zibert presented and which he urged the commission to take. Under the plan tentatively approved Friday, the county government will retain greater control over the bidding and contracting or subcontracting process for various aspects of the sewer line relocation project.

KDOT informed the Crawford County Commission in March that it would be responsible for the sewer line relocation, which the state agency said at the time that it estimated would cost around $1 million. The county commission approved a $36,000 contract with Earle’s Engineering in April for the initial design phase of the project.