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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 1999

STUDY ENVISIONS HIGHWAY EXPANSIONS

July 28, 1999

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Final recommendations in an area highway corridor study will be presented during a round of public meetings in September.

An engineering firm studying future traffic needs between Kansas City and Topeka will recommend six lanes on Interstate 70 between Lecompton and Topeka, expansion of Stull Road to four lanes and completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The projects are among several conclusions HDR Engineering of Kansas City, Mo., will present in a final September report on highways that should be built by 2025 to meet current and anticipated traffic needs.

"What we have identified are the improvements that will most benefit the future travel needs," said Barry Rolle, vice president of HDR and project manager of the Kaw Connects Major Corridor Study.

HDR was hired by Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority to study all major roads in the Kansas City-Topeka corridor, at a cost of up to $1.28 million.

The study began in April 1998, and will conclude with a final report in September month, Rolle said.

Among recommendations in the report:

  • Expansion of Kansas Highway 10 to six lanes.
  • Completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway. HDR will not specify an alignment for the controversial eastern portion of the road, Rolle said.
  • Construction of a four-lane highway between Lawrence and Topeka, south of I-70, possibly along Stull Road, which turns into 45th Street in Topeka. The road could be labeled an extension of K-10, Rolle said.
  • Expansion of I-70 to six lanes between Lecompton and Topeka. That project is needed mainly because of commuter traffic, Rolle said.

"The demand really is higher between Lawrence and Topeka, believe it or not, than between Lawrence and Kansas City" along I-70, he said. "K-10 is a different story."

All of HDR's recommendations, Rolle said, will be based on four factors: Traffic projections, public input at forums during the last year, road engineering and the environment.

Gary Toebben, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce who has seen the recommendations as a member of an advisory committee for HDR, said he was surprised about two aspects of the firm's findings.

"The number that really got my attention was the projection of the traffic on K-10 east of Eudora," he said.

By 2025, he said, 48,000 vehicles per day are expected to travel K-10 near Eudora. Today, it's about 29,000, Toebben said.

Also, he said, "I don't think it surprised anyone that they suggested widening (I-70) from Topeka to Lecompton. I think what surprised a lot of people is not widening it the entire way" between Topeka and Kansas City.

Rolle said HDR would have a series of public meetings when the final report is released, possibly on Sept. 1.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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