Archive for Friday, March 11, 1994

CITY TO LOBBY FOR ROAD FUNDS

March 11, 1994

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Lawrence leaders are heading to the nation's capital to attend policy seminars, talk to lawmakers and request more than $10 million for a proposed Eastern Parkway.

A delegation of city officials will carry a full load into this weekend's National League of Cities meetings in Washington, D.C.

One of the biggest goals is continuing the drive toward a proposed Eastern Parkway, a $14.7 million project to connect Kansas Highway 10 with downtown Lawrence.

City officials already are spending the $4 million local voters approved four years ago, for engineering plans and environmental studies.

During meetings Monday with Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., and Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Kan., the Lawrence delegation will lobby for federal money, Commissioner Bob Schulte said.

"They know, in advance, what we're going to ask them about," said Schulte, making his third trip to Washington representing Lawrence. "We want to let them know that we're using the money that we have, but at some point it will run out. We'll need the money they can provide."

Lawrence's delegation -- City Manager Mike Wildgen, Mayor John Nalbandian and Commissioners Jo Andersen and Schulte -- left this morning for Washington and will return to Lawrence on Tuesday.

In between, they will split up and attend seminars on issues facing cities across the country. Schulte said he wanted to learn more about the financial strategies cities use to tackle major capital improvements.

This budget year, Schulte said, the city will consider spending millions of dollars on dozens of projects, including the extension of 15th Street, widening of Peterson Road, expansion of the Lawrence Arts Center, construction of new parks, expansion of local health facilities and reconstruction of North Second Street, to name a few.

Nalbandian said he was interested in learning about public safety issues -- how Lawrence could institute community-oriented policing programs, for example.

The Eastern Parkway project remains a priority, Nalbandian said. It's needed to complete Lawrence's circumferential loop with the proposed South Lawrence Trafficway, and better connect traffic out of Johnson County with downtown and the northwest portions of Lawrence.

Nalbandian's reasoning, however, is just the kind of thinking a parkway opponent sought to eliminate last week in Washington.

Richard Kershenbaum, an East Lawrence resident and member of a group called Citizens Opposed to the Eastern Parkway, visited with staffers for Kassebaum, Mrs. Meyers, Sen. Bob Dole and the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on transportation.

The message was simple: "This is a project that has no merit. It's a project that won't work," he said. "I hope they see that."

Nalbandian, however, said the parkway's status relied on a "totality" of evidence and efforts. He's still optimistic about the project's status.

"One conversation isn't going to make a difference," he said.

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