Archive for Thursday, June 18, 1998

S SEAT ON SIXTH STREET EXPANSION

June 18, 1998

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City and county officials come to similar ground about road projects.

Saying there were too many cooks in the kitchen, Lawrence and Douglas County officials decided Wednesday to leave the recipe for improving Sixth Street in the city's pot.

City and county leaders met Wednesday to decide which projects to include on a new state comprehensive transportation program they expect the Legislature to tackle during the 1999 legislative session.

The county commission supports widening Sixth Street from Wakarusa Drive to the South Lawrence Trafficway, but believes the city should lead the effort. City leaders agreed.

``Sixth Street might be better handled by one cook,'' county commissioner Mark Buhler said, explaining that if officials jointly proposed a bond issue for improvements be placed on the November ballot, they'd be asking city residents to select from the menu twice, which could get confusing.

``Sixth Street looks like a municipal problem, big as life,'' Buhler stressed.

City commissioner John Nalbandian said he agreed with Buhler's thinking.

``I like the idea of the city being responsible for Sixth Street (from Wakarusa Drive to the trafficway) because eventually (that area) is going to be the city,'' Nalbandian said.

The city won't waste any time on the project, Mayor Marty Kennedy said.

``We're going to do it as fast as we can because we're behind on it already as it is,'' he said.

On the city and county's joint resolution for state-funded projects:

  • Completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway, including the eastern leg and the third and fourth legs all the way around.
  • Building the 15th Street interchange, originally called for in the trafficway project.
  • Widening U.S. Highway 59 to four lanes between Lawrence and Ottawa.
  • A non-motorized project, details of which they plan to iron out later.

The city will decide later whether to put Sixth Street on the state list or to take the project, estimated to cost $6.6 million, to voters. The state already has committed $2 million to the project.

As part of declaring Sixth Street a city project, county commissioners agreed to take the lead on Kasold Drive improvements from 31st Street to the trafficway.

``And obviously we'll be the lead on the SLT,'' Buhler said.

The city and county also will ask for funding for a non-motorized project. Finishing the biking and hiking paths along the trafficway is a given, but Nalbandian hopes the city and county will come up with a project that will take people out into the county, to Wells Overlook, for example. He also suggested talking to Johnson County officials about a hike/bike path that could connect Johnson County and Douglas County, perhaps along old Kansas Highway 10.

Buhler said he thinks asking for a non-motorized project is important because he believes the SLT bike path, when it's completed, will go beyond recreation.

``I really think it's going to get people to work,'' Buhler said.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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