De Soto Officials are seeking public input on a comprehensive, long-range plan for the Topeka-Kansas City highway corridor.
Adding lanes to the Kansas Turnpike from Topeka to Kansas City and widening U.S. Highway 24 between Tonganoxie and Topeka are two of several issues that state and private officials will tackle in a comprehensive, long-range corridor study of all the major roads between Topeka and Kansas City.
The $1.28 million effort, called the Kaw Connects study, is being sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority. Officials got an opportunity to hear what the public thinks of the plan during a comment session Tuesday in DeSoto. Another session will be held today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Perry.
``We want more than the emotional response of `I don't want it in my back yard,''' said Rick Cunningham, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc., the Kansas City, Mo., firm selected by the agencies to lead the effort, which should be completed next year.
``We want to know what people think can be done to meet the future needs.''
The study area includes about 2,200 square miles of Shawnee, Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. Lawrence is located near the center of the corridor area.
The study will address transportation needs over the next 25 years.
HDR officials plan to use public comment to devise a set of possible projects, including road widening, alternative transportation, such as light rail, and highway realignments.
``We do not have any new roadways in mind right now,'' said Jim Tobaben, KDOT transportation bureau chief.
Tobaben said the corridor area is growing quickly in both population and traffic. Among the issues officials will study is how development will affect priorities in road projects.
The area contains 35 percent of the state's population and daily traffic, officials said.
``We wanted to get out ahead of the game ... before traffic becomes a real problem,'' Tobaben said.
Terry Tidwell, a retiree from Merriam and one of about 50 people who came to the meeting, said he was glad KDOT and the KTA were both involved.
``It's high time KDOT and KTA work together,'' he said. ``I think there's definitely a capacity problem now, especially on I-70 and K-10.
``It looks like they're covering all the basics. We just can't look at growth in Topeka or Kansas City and say, `Here's the problem.' I'm glad they're looking ahead with this project, considering it takes them 10 years to do anything.''
Joyce Williams, who lives about 12 miles north of Lawrence in Jefferson County, said planning is necessary. But she said she doesn't want more roads or realignments.
``They need to stay with existing roadways,'' she said.
HDR is taking written comments about the study. A telephone hotline also has been set up, 1-877-KAWconx (1-877-529-2669). Additional information also is available on the Internet at http://www.KAWConnects.com.
More public forums on the study are scheduled for September and January.
-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.