The proposed eastern parkway was not on the list of projects announced today to receive state funding, but a state highway official said the door isn't necessarily closed on construction of the road.
Deb Miller, director of the division of planning and development for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said that KDOT left Douglas County and Lawrence the flexibility and $3.3 million in excess funding that eventually could lead to a parkway.
As envisioned, the parkway would connect downtown Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 near the East Hills Business Park.
MILLER explained that in their application to the state for funding under the multimillion-dollar system enhancements program, Lawrence and Douglas County were seeking funding for a "circumferential loop" that included the south Lawrence trafficway, the eastern parkway and improvements to U.S. Highway 40 (Sixth Street), west of Wakarusa Drive.
In the application, Lawrence and Douglas County pledged approximately $17.3 million in funding $4 million each from the city and county, $2.1 million from the Kansas Turnpike Authority, and $7.2 million in federal funds toward construction of the circumferential loop.
In announcing the award for the south Lawrence trafficway, KDOT said it would require $14 million in local monies, leaving the remaining $3.3 million for use elsewhere.
"What we have said to officials from Lawrence and Douglas County is that the $3.3 million very well may open up to them at least the opportunity to start, if not finish, the eastern parkway," Miller said.
LAWRENCE Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith, a parkway supporter, said she wasn't disappointed that the estimated $7.3 million eastern parkway was not funded by the state; instead she's eager to learn more about KDOT's ideas.
"There's a whole lot of support for the whole circumferential system, and any money that we get for any part of the system will help us move along with the entire system," she said.
County Administrator Chris McKenzie and City Manager Mike Wildgen both noted that the $3.9 million in funding for the widening of U.S. Highway 40 west of Wakarusa, which also was not on the list of funded projects, was a tenuous request.
"I guess I'm not surprised," Wildgen said. "But that project is going to happen some day when the (south Lawrence) trafficway is built. KDOT's been very supportive of our projects on Sixth Street, and I suspect we'll be on line for that once the trafficway is built."