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Archive for Thursday, March 26, 1992

REPORT FINDS ENVIRONMENT AND PARKWAY CAN COEXIST

March 26, 1992

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Construction of the Eastern Parkway will bring about no major environmental repercussions beyond infringing on prime farmland and several structures along the proposed route.

These were the findings of a report, drafted by Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City, Mo., architectural, engineering and consulting firm, on the possible environmental impact of the route proposed for the parkway.

The report identifies environmental conditions along the proposed alignment and attempts to gauge the parkway's impact. Environmental elements considered in the report include wildlife, vegetation, air quality and existing structures.

The bulk of the land needed for the parkway is used for agriculture, the report says. It estimates the parkway and its proposed right of way would claim about 109 acres of prime farmland.

The report also says the parkway would displace several structures, including two homes and several commercial buildings, echoing an engineering study of the proposed route released last week.

HOWEVER, the report often does not come to a conclusion on the parkway's potential effects and calls for more studies.

For example, it calls for further investigation of the parkway's impact on air quality and a survey of historic properties that may exist in the area. Noise pollution created by the parkway also should receive more study.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said the report is not meant to be a final study.

"This was done to give us a preliminary assessment of environmental concerns along the corridor," Wildgen said.

"If something had been spotted that couldn't be mitigated, we would have wanted to know about that," he said. "But I don't think the report finds anything."

Wildgen said further studies must be conducted if state or federal funds are used in the project.

THE PARKWAY'S proposed alignment runs from Noria Road along the north side of the Santa Fe tracks, crosses over the tracks at Eighth Street and ties into Seventh Street near the Santa Fe depot.

The report says the parkway will require the removal of some residences and commercial structures. Residents of two homes along East 11th Street must be relocated. Structures serving three businesses also would be removed.

The proposed alignment requires the least amount of relocation possible within the design constraints of the parkway, the report said.

Construction of the parkway also will displace some common vegetation and occupy the habitat of several kinds of wildlife, including the white-tailed deer, woodchuck and fox squirrel, the report says.

Although the habitat and some individual animals would be lost, the parkway would not threaten the existence of the species in the area, the report says.

THE ROUTE would not encroach on the habitat skirting the Kansas River set aside for a wintering bald eagle population. Construction would take place during warm weather months when eagles rarely are in the area, it said.

Examining aesthetic impact, the report says the parkway will be ``highly visible'' from the area's flat, open terrain.

Drivers may encounter a pungent odor from the city's wastewater treatment plant, located east of the parkway's downtown entrance. While the odor may be a nuisance, it is not severe enough to alter the alignment, the report says.

Lawrence city commissioners will be given copies of the report this week, Wildgen said.

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