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Archive for Wednesday, December 22, 1999

BALDWIN VOTES FOR EASTERN U.S. 59

December 22, 1999

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— A Baldwin City Council vote Monday in favor of a proposed eastern route for U.S. Highway 59 was not a surprise and won't mean the road will be built there, according to highway officials.

During a meeting last week, Dean Carlson, Kansas transportation secretary, told local officials that if they were in "unanimous" agreement the new freeway would be built adjacent to the existing road between Lawrence and Ottawa.

KDOT's preferred alignment is parallel to but a mile east of the current road.

Invited to the meeting were Baldwin, Ottawa and Lawrence city officials and Douglas and Franklin county commissioners.

But by "unanimous" Carlson didn't mean Baldwin, said Marty Matthews, a KDOT spokesman.

"We care about how they feel," Matthews said. "But in the decision-making process the other four entities are going to have the bulk of the influence."

Matthews said the reason was that Baldwin had less at stake than the other governments.

Baldwin City Administrator Larry Paine agreed.

"If they build it on the western alignment, it's not going to make a whole lot of difference in the end," Paine said.

Baldwin city officials have supported the eastern alignment from the beginning because it would bring the freeway a mile closer to their city. Baldwin now has no four-lane roads leading to it.

"It enhances our economic development strategies by giving businesses an opportunity to get to transportation corridors a lot quicker," Paine said.

Paine said he expects to see commercial and industrial areas grow on the west side of Baldwin regardless of where the new freeway is built.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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