Prospects continue to be positive for the so-called ``Smart Corridor,'' Kansas Highway 10 from Lawrence to Overland Park.
For the past seven years, the push to develop Kansas Highway 10 between Lawrence and the greater Kansas City area has been ceaseless. And the efforts show no signs of slowing down.
A high-powered meeting among local government and business officials was held in mid-March to renew efforts to attract a major microchip plant to the outskirts of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
``We feel the K-10 corridor is the most suitable location, in both the state of Kansas and the metropolitan Kansas City area, to accommodate that type of a major facility,'' said Rich Caplan, executive director of K-10 Association Inc. and a Lawrence developer.
``It's a major effort, and there's nothing imminent, but that's a long-term objective for the area.''
Formed in 1991, K-10 Association Inc. is a regional mix of developers, land owners and utilities. The group involves Lawrence, Eudora, DeSoto, Shawnee, Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa. Every city along K-10 has agreed to use standard design guidelines for new developments.
According to traffic figures and corporate interest, those developments could be hard to keep up with.
Drive, drive, drive
Recent studies have indicated traffic has increased dramatically on K-10, especially when compared to Interstate 70 between Lawrence and Kansas City. In fact, since 1986, shortly after the completion of K-10, traffic has increased from 15,000 vehicles per day to more than 25,000 a day last year.
And from 1990 to 1996, the cities attached to the K-10 corridor grew by more than 50,000 residents.
``I believe Lawrence and Douglas County have a vested interest in how that area is developed in terms of aesthetically how it looks,'' Lawrence Mayor Bonnie Augustine said. ``Also more important is what you can't see, in terms of fiber optics and those types of telecommunications enhancements -- not only usable to the businesses but also the households in that area.''
Working hand-in-hand with Lenexa, Overland Park and other Johnson County cities has proven useful, she added.
``It's an interesting group,'' Augustine said. ``I think that's why it's so important to be proactive in terms of how it's developed. Eudora and DeSoto are obviously very involved in that process as well.''
Promotional efforts for the area are linked, in part, to its fiber optic capabilities. Southwestern Bell has indicated that any project along the corridor can gain access to the state-of-the-art technology.
The corridor also boasts good power supplies and plenty of available space.
Progress on a K-10 technology plan continues as well. K-10 Association Inc. recently sent a survey to key users of telecommunications and information technology along K-10.
Local governments, school districts, higher education institutions, and heavy telecommunications users in the private sector have been asked to evaluate the current technology infrastructure and future needs, in terms of fiber optics and other telecommunications systems.
One smart area
In 1996, the group launched a marketing campaign that dubs the highway "America's Smart Corridor."
The campaign includes monument signs placed on both ends of the road, in Lawrence and at the intersection at Renner Boulevard near Olathe. Native materials and native stone were used to build the signs.
The smart designation was meant to illustrate both the highly skilled and highly educated work force in the area, as well as the push to bring to the area companies that would need those workers.
Among those companies is Microtech, which in the fall finished building a 200,000-square-foot facility in west Lawrence.
See Highway, page 13F