City to vote on funds for Lincoln St. Bridge

Wichita may soon press ahead with a plan to replace the Lincoln Street Bridge over the Arkansas River and build a new dam farther downstream that would let kayaks and fish pass through.

City Council members will vote Tuesday on whether to spend $500,000 to complete the design of the bridge and dam.

The move would accomplish a few things. The existing bridge and dam are about 40 years old, and engineers say they are deteriorating.

Meanwhile, local governments have been trying to improve access to the river.

The Lincoln Street dam and 21st Street dam are the only things blocking canoes and kayaks from a clear 100-mile stretch of river between the Rice-Reno county line and Oxford.

Engineers also believe that having the dam separate from the bridge would make it easier to maintain and easier and more efficient to control the level of the river.

Officials have said before that the design could improve fishing in the area — though people probably wouldn't be allowed to fish from the top of the dam.

Council members will likely vote on construction of the project next year. The total cost is expected to be about $11.8 million, with nearly $5 million of that coming from federal grants.