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Archive for Thursday, October 7, 1999

DOUGLAS COUNTY TO SEEK STATE PROJECTS

October 7, 1999

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Douglas County commissioners hope for a U.S. Highway 59 extension running through Lecompton.

Douglas County Commission Chairman Dean Nieder will be calling Jefferson County this week to make a final appeal for cooperation on a future route for U.S. Highway 59.

The two county commissions disagree on how best to build a U.S. 59 extension linking Williamstown and the western leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Jefferson County commissioners favor a direct route with a new bridge east of Lecompton. Douglas County commissioners think the highway should be diverted through Lecompton and Perry using the existing bridge there or building a new one at that site.

The disagreement comes as the two counties lobby for projects to be included in the state's 10-year Comprehensive Transportation Program, which was discussed at Wednesday's Douglas County Commission meeting.

The commissioners voted to submit five projects for consideration:

  • Completion of two lanes of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
  • Completion of four lanes of the South Lawrence Trafficway through its entire route.
  • A 15th Street interchange on the South Lawrence Trafficway.
  • A U.S. 59 extension connecting the trafficway to Perry.
  • A new route connecting Kansas Highway 10 with U.S. Highway 24-40 east of Lawrence, preferably at Noria Road.

The application process is extensive, said Keith Browning, public works director. The county will be paying HNTB about $33,000 to compile applications for the last two projects. The engineering firm has done work for the trafficway and has offered to complete those applications free of charge.

The commissioners had to waive the county's normal bidding process to offer the work to HNTB. Browning suggested the move because of the short time frame involved. The applications are due in December.

After past discussions with people in Lecompton and Perry, Douglas County commissioners have agreed that a new bridge east of Lecompton would hurt the town economically. "I think the people of Perry and Lecompton have pretty much spoken on this," Commissioner Charles Jones said.

Jefferson County officials have argued that a new bridge would save wear on the old one.

"If Jefferson County still wants to apply " for that route they have every right in the world to do so," Nieder said.

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

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