Although the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday handed Douglas County officials a legal victory on the South Lawrence Trafficway, the battle over the roadway isn't over yet.
"There's no pavement out there yet. And until there is, there are things that can be done," said Don Strole, an attorney for three plaintiffs who lost a lawsuit against the county over the validity of the 1990 bond election for the trafficway.
The state's high court ruled 6-0 in favor of the county's advisory election, in which voters approved $4 million in bonds for the road.
The suit was filed by county residents Leslie W. Blevins Sr., Timothy Miller and Patty Boyer after county voters approved the bonds. They contended the election should have been binding rather than advisory. They also contended that the ballot question that accompanied the voter was "incomplete, misleading, biased and unfair."
Strole, their attorney, said Saturday he had not yet read the Supreme Court opinion completely and reviewed other similar cases to determine the options available to the plaintiffs.
He said he expected to do that and meet with his clients by the middle of this week.
Meanwhile, Strole said the plaintiffs might have the option of suing the county over the validity of the environmental impact statement.
"We've always maintained that from the moment the environmental impact statement came out that it was defective," Strole said. "We will look very closely at that to see about litigating the defectiveness of it. Clearly it is insufficient and we need to explore that."
Strole also said that last week's revelation that the Kansas Department of Transportation has made plans to realign the roadway also raises questions about the environmental impact statement.
After conducting recent design studies of the trafficway alignment, KDOT officials decided the route must be changed, adding about $15 million to its cost.
County officials have said that the changed alignment will not affect the EIS. Strole has a different opinion.
"That realignment, at some point, may effect the environmental impact statement itself," Strole said. "We'll look at what those changes have done with respect to the environmental impact statement."