The eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway is likely to move to 35th Street, a county official says.
A South Lawrence Trafficway alignment through the Baker Wetlands is likely to emerge as the preferred route, says Douglas County Commissioner Jim Chappell.
He predicts that the supplemental environmental impact statement on the project will abandon the 31st Street alignment in favor of one along 35th Street. Under that scenario, the trafficway would bisect Baker University's 573-acre wetland area.
``There's some environmental concerns there. However, where we would go through used to be a township road,'' Chappell said. ``It's the lesser of the two evils.''
Baker University officials have said they will oppose a 35th Street route. An attorney for the university could not be reached for comment this morning.
The 31st Street alignment came under fire last year when Haskell Indian Nations University objected that its effects on the college campus, which would be directly north of the trafficway, had been overlooked.
Next year, the supplemental study will re-examine the route of the southeastern five miles of the trafficway, from U.S. Highway 59 to Kansas Highway 10. The first nine miles of the road, which originates at the Kansas Turnpike and will loop west and south of the city, is under construction.
Haskell President Bob Martin said no version of the 31st Street alignment will be compatible with spiritual and educational programs on his campus.
``We don't think those concerns can be mitigated,'' he said. ``We think there has to be an alternate route.''
Although Haskell doesn't want to be pitted against Baker University, Martin said he's not taking a position on any other route.
``Our primary concern now is protecting the integrity of our campus,'' he said.
County Commissioner Mark Buhler said the 31st Street alignment was chosen because it would destroy less wetlands than the 35th Street route.
Now, he said, ``we're going to be balancing taking more wetlands versus the concerns of Haskell, and I don't know the answer to that.''