Sparks flew at the weekly Rotary Club luncheon on Monday as Douglas County Commission Chairman Mike Amyx and Lawrence resident Leslie W. Blevins Sr. discussed the two roadway bond issues.
Blevins, an opponent of the south Lawrence trafficway, was put on the defensive by two questions from the group. One question dealt with a letter he had written to the Journal-World, and the other was about his comments concerning the trafficway's benefit to "special interest groups."
In a letter-to-the-editor in Saturday's Journal-World, Blevins wrote that the trafficway would have "a total of 15 intersections with traffic lights or stop signs."
But Monday he changed that claim.
"I believe that it's correct to say that there will not be stop signs and stop lights on the county commission proposed alternate to 23rd Street," he said of the trafficway.
THE TRAFFICWAY will have 15 points of entry along its 14.1-mile route, including 11 access points that will be controlled with two-way stop signs and four interstate-style interchanges. No traffic lights are planned along the route at this time.
Blevins added, though, that he thought traffic lights were inevitable along the trafficway.
When pressed further about his letter, Blevins said the traffic light inference was "unintended" and that he "would be happy to send a letter of `adjustment'" to the newspaper, but he stopped short of calling the follow-up letter a retraction.
Amyx called Blevins' letter "a pure deception," and said putting stop signs every mile along the route was not going to happen.
Blevins also was pressed on his claim that special interests in Lawrence would benefit from the road. He said he was addressing an audience with "a higher percentage . . . of people who have a vested interest in seeing the roadway, as proposed, being built," but he did not name anyone specific.
AMYX WAS speaking on behalf of the "Vote Yes for Roads" steering committee, a group supporting both of the separate $4 million bond issues for the trafficway and the eastern parkway. If approved by voters, the 14.1-mile trafficway would loop around to the west and south of the city, connecting with the Kansas Turnpike and Kansas Highway 10, and the parkway would link downtown Lawrence with K-10 near the East Hills Business Park.
"If we don't do something today to build new roadways to help divert some of the through traffic off of our city's streets, we're going to be strangled, folks," he said.
Amyx said that opponents to the two projects were "absolutely wrong" when they said the roads would make traffic worse in Lawrence.
"It is going to (keep) traffic off our city streets that is through-traffic trying to sneak through neighborhoods," he said of the trafficway.
THE TWO projects are linked together, Amyx stressed.
"They're two different issues, but they're together," he said of the two referendums. "For the sake of planning they're together, and for the sake of moving vehicles they're together."
Blevins said he supported the parkway, although he preferred the route to cross the Kansas River. But he remained steadfast in his opposition to the trafficway.
"If we had that route today," he said of the trafficway, "it would be outdated."