An unlikely triumverate joined forces Tuesday to defeat an interlocal agreement on the south Lawrence trafficway and eastern parkway proposed by the Douglas County Commission.
Rarely does City Commissioner David Penny agree with Commissioners Bob Schumm and Mike Rundle on an issue related to the eastern parkway and Tuesday night's meeting of the Lawrence City Commission was no exception.
Although they did it for widely different reasons, the three teamed up to vote down the county's proposed interlocal agreement. Their vote ensures that the city and county won't revise their interlocal agreement before the Nov. 6 elections.
THE AGREEMENT is intended to spell out the city's and county's responsibilities in completing the proposed south Lawrence trafficway and eastern parkway. The update was requested after the county received $27 million from the state for construction of the first two lanes of the trafficway.
The sticking point preventing the city and county from agreeing on the revised document revolves around which should take precedence: gaining funding for the eastern parkway or gaining funding for the third and fourth lanes of the trafficway. No outside funding has been received for the parkway.
County officials have said they're willing to make securing parkway funding the "first priority" and have pledged not to build the third or fourth lanes of the trafficway during the next five years unless funding for the parkway is secured.
PENNY SAID he doesn't like linking the two roads together at all.
Schumm and Rundle say that the priority promise lacks true commitment to the eastern parkway. They reason that no matter whether there's an agreement, planning and construction of the final two lanes of the trafficway can't be completed within the proposed five-year period; the first two lanes aren't scheduled for completion for another five or six years.
Both Rundle and Schumm say they're afraid that a four-lane trafficway will be funded and completed at the expense of the parkway.
As long as the city and county are trying to locate funds for both projects at the same time, Schumm said, the two are fighting against each other.
"WE'RE IN the position of putting two major projects in competition with each other, and the likelihood of them both gaining funding is not good," Schumm said.
Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith said she thought the commission could ably ensure that gaining funding for the parkway is the top priority, and she favored the county's position. Similar sentiments were expressed by Commissioner Bob Walters.
Since the city couldn't reach consensus, the proposal now will be shelved until at least Election Day, the next scheduled meeting of the city commission.