After hearing from upset Lecompton residents Wednesday night, the Douglas County Commission ditched a plan to charge motorists a 25-cent toll to cross a bridge over the Kansas Turnpike to use the South Lawrence Trafficway.
The commission voted 2-1, with Commissioner Louie McElhaney opposed, to stay with a plan that hooks County Road 438, also known as the Farmer's Turnpike, to the trafficway with a new county road.
The new county road will extend east from the trafficway about one-fourth mile, then will curve north and extend over the turnpike to the Farmer's Turnpike. The new road and bridge is estimated to cost $1.6 million to $1.7 million.
The commission, also at the request of Lecompton residents, voted to formally name the new turnpike access "Lecompton Interchange."
THE COMMISSION'S action followed about an hour-long public hearing on a proposal offered by the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
R.D. Fogo, the KTA's chief engineer-manager, offered a plan that would connect the turnpike to both the trafficway and to 438, with toll booths on both sides of the turnpike.
Fogo said putting a second toll booth at the intersection to allow traffic from 438 direct access to the turnpike would cost the KTA $100,000 a year.
To partially defray the cost, the KTA would impose a 25-cent charge to motorists who wanted to cross the bridge to get to the trafficway. The KTA could not offer the second interchange without charging the 25-cent fee because it will lose too much money, he said.
Paul Bahnmeir, a Lecompton resident who has championed getting a Lecompton interchange built on the turnpike, was upset about the KTA proposal.
FOR YEARS, Bahnmeir told commissioners, Lecompton residents had been told an intersection would be built at County Road 1029. He said they gave up that dream when the trafficway development moved the intersection 2 miles west.
He said rather than have Lecompton residents pay 25 cents to get to the trafficway, the county should return the turnpike intersection to the original plan for County Road 1029. He also asked the interchange be formally named "Lecompton Interchange."
Jeff Goodrick, a member of the Lecompton City Council, told the commission the council passed a resolution objecting to the 25-cent fee.
After hearing from several other county residents, the commission rejected the KTA plan and voted to continue with the current interchange plans.
McELHANEY said he voted against staying with the current plan because it will cost about $1.6 million to build the new road and bridge, and it would require additional funds to maintain it over the years.
McElaney also said he didn't think the new road would be widely used by people coming from Lecompton wanting to get to the trafficway. He said motorists probably would prefer taking a quicker route that now exists, by exiting 438 at Trailrider's Road and turning east on Township Road 1700N, to get to the trafficway.
In other trafficway action, the commission approved moving the interchange planned on U.S. Highway 59 about 390 feet south to stay off the commercially zoned property just south of Sonny Hill Motors. The decision is subject to review by the Federal Highway Administration for conformance with the trafficway's environmental impact statement.
The commission also voted to approve a new trafficway alignment for Clinton Parkway, which eliminates an earlier planned intersection at Yankee Tank Dam and constructs an interchange at the intersection of County Road 13 and Clinton Parkway. The alignment was approved by the Kansas Department of Transportation.