Archive for Tuesday, March 23, 1999

TRAFFICWAY OPPONENTS NOT APPEASED BY STUDY

March 23, 1999

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A draft report concerning the proposed eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway is being dissected by some trafficway critics.

After picking up a photocopy of a federal report detailing how a completed South Lawrence Trafficway along 31st Street would affect the historical aspects of Haskell Indian Nations University, critics of the proposed trafficway gathered at Haskell's science building Monday night to go over the draft report line by line.

What they found did not please them.

"It's the same exact thing as what they've already done," said Anna Wilson, spokeswoman for the Wetlands Preservation Organization. "It hasn't changed. They just cut and pasted. They feel that what they have done is adequate, and to us it's not."

Wilson said that was the conclusion from a meeting of about six people who have opposed the trafficway, several of whom were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that has delayed its construction.

It does include a new noise study that, with higher estimates for the traffic expected on the trafficway, will require a sound and sight barrier to help shield the Haskell campus from the road.

"We've never had a sound study that said we had to build mounds," said John Pasley, former SLT project manager for Douglas County who now works for HNTB Engineering.

HNTB was hired by the county to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the trafficway. An SEIS outlines the impact a federally funded project will have on the surrounding area. The report released Monday, called a 4(f) statement, will become part of the final SEIS.

Pasley said an earthen berm 12 feet high likely will be the preferred barrier. He estimated its cost around $800,000.

But Pasley said people shouldn't expect a lot of new information as the county and HNTB continue to work toward completion of the SEIS.

"There isn't going to be a lot of new findings other than this noise study and this mitigation plan. Those are the two big things," he said. "We've still got the same three routes. There's not a whole lot more you can say about them. There are not going to be any new big surprises coming out of this."

That is troubling to Wilson, who said she faulted the draft 4(f) statement on several points, including the anticipated traffic counts on the new trafficway and the fact the wetlands weren't considered as having historic value.

Wilson said she was particularly bothered by vagueness of the document, which will be made available to the public at the Lawrence Public Library, the Haskell library and the Kansas University library.

The new noise study is summarized in the report, but its text is not included. Wilson said it should have been, along with any other supporting documents.

The county will hold a public information meeting in April to discuss the 4(f) statement.

"They did not give enough information for people to give accurate responses or even to go in and ask the right questions," Wilson said. "What are those people supposed to ask?"

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

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