Existing land use "is expected to change only minimally" with a new U.S. Highway 59 between Lawrence and Ottawa, a report says.
Four of 26 threatened and endangered species and several tallgrass prairie sites could be affected by construction of a new U.S. Highway 59 between Lawrence and Ottawa, according to an environmental assessment of the project.
But the assessment said the project would not significantly affect air quality, archeological or historical sites, and would not cause a significant increase in carbon monoxide or affect many residents with noise.
The 40-page report was released this week by the Kansas Department of Transportation. The research was conducted by KDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.
Among the assessment's findings:
- Nine residences, two businesses, six farmsteads, two out buildings, such as sheds, one building and a cemetery would be affected under KDOT's preferred alignment, which calls for a new highway east of the current road.
- 590 cultivated acres, 240 wooded acres, 75 pasture acres and 270 other acres would be affected by the road.
"The existing land use is expected to change only minimally because of the construction of either of the build alternatives," the report claims.
- A total of 38.8 acres of wetlands and "hydric soils" would be affected.
"" Assessments will be used to develop appropriate mitigation measures such as replacement of wetlands displaced, and/or bridging of affected areas to minimize loss," the assessment says.
- No hazardous waste sites would be affected by the project.
- Threatened or endangered species that could be affected are Mead's milkweed, Western prairie fringed orchid, the smooth (western) earth snake and the northern redbelly snake.
- Under the "socioeconomic" category, the assessment says, "The new freeway will enhance the viability of the project corridor by reducing local congestion and regional transportation costs. With an improved transportation system, the overall transportation costs to local business will be decreased by reducing congestion, providing a valuable transportation corridor for both commuters and travelers, and reducing traffic incidents."
A copy of the assessment may be obtained from the Douglas County Public Works office, one of several public locations where it is on display. It costs $22 to own a copy, however viewing the assessment is free.
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