City officials have a green light to pursue funding for the widening of a major street in western Lawrence.
Douglas County commissioners have lifted a roadblock that could have prevented the city of Lawrence from seeking state funding to widen West Sixth Street west of Wakarusa Drive.
During their meeting Monday, county commissioners said they would not hold the city to the terms of an interlocal agreement that limited efforts to obtain highway funding through 1999 to the Eastern Parkway. The pact was designed to prevent the Eastern Parkway and South Lawrence Trafficway from competing against one another for highway grants.
Lawrence Mayor Bob Moody told county officials that increased traffic in western Lawrence was making the Sixth Street project a priority.
``We do believe it's to the benefit of a majority of county residents, not just the city, that this go forward,'' Moody said.
The county commission's action Monday allows city officials to submit a funding application to the Kansas Department of Transportation ahead of a Sept. 1 deadline. Next week commissioners plan to approve a formal revision of the interlocal agreement.
The city hopes to make West Sixth Street a four-lane road on a 1.25-mile stretch between Wakarusa Drive and the junction with the South Lawrence Trafficway. Transportation 2020, the city's long-range transportation plan, estimates the project will cost $4.6 million.
Moody told county officials that the city is not ready to seek funding for the Eastern Parkway, which was envisioned as a companion to the South Lawrence Trafficway. The SLT would carry traffic west and south of Lawrence, from the Kansas Turnpike to Kansas Highway 10, with the Eastern Parkway providing a link from K-10 to downtown Lawrence.
``We still believe the Eastern Parkway is a necessary aspect of the circumferential loop,'' Moody said, referring to the plan for a highway system to move traffic around the outskirts of Lawrence.
However, an environmental impact statement and other steps must be completed before the city is ready to pursue Eastern Parkway funding, Moody said.