Archive for Thursday, September 23, 1999

HIGHWAY STUDY CALLS FOR NEW ROUTES

September 23, 1999

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— A final report on the area's transportation needs should be completed in November by an engineering firm that has been studying the issue since April 1998.

An engineering firm has released a study recommending $1 billion or more in highway improvements in the next 25 years between Topeka and Kansas City.

The study calls for an extension of U.S. Highway 24 from Perry to Tonganoxie, an extension from U.S. Highway 24 to the Kansas Turnpike near Lecompton, a new four-lane highway between Lawrence and Topeka south of Interstate 70, and the widening of the Kansas Turnpike and Kansas Highway 10 to six lanes.

"Basically what we've been doing from the very beginning is to ask people to visualize the future," said Barry Rolle, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc. "That's what we're showing with this study."

The effort, called the Kaw Connects Major Corridor Study, includes six counties in a 2,200-square-mile area. Lawrence lies near the center of the study area.

The Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority are sponsoring the study at a cost of $1.28 million.

About 200 people attended the last of a series of public meetings conducted since the study began in April 1998.

At the meeting Wednesday in the American Legion Hall in Perry, Rolle outlined the future improvement plans, and said public input into the study included the following:

  • Safety and traffic congestion were key concerns.
  • Improvements to existing roads were more desirable than building new ones.
  • More access to the Turnpike is desired.
  • More Kansas River crossings also are desired.
  • Environmental impact is important.

HDR should complete a final report on the study by November, Rolle said.

Jim Tobaben, KDOT transportation bureau chief, said the study is different from the highway system enhancement program passed by the Legislature last year.

In that program, KDOT will identify projects next year that are needed now, he said.

No funds have been allocated for any of the concepts in the KAW Connects study, and none have been included in the system enhancement program, he said.

However, projects in the study eventually could be included, Tobaben said.

"If you came here tonight to see a line on a map to see if it comes close to your house, you will be disappointed," Rolle told the audience.

"This was a planning study. Very little highway engineering was done."

A second public meeting on the study's findings will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Shawnee Heights Middle School in Tecumseh.

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

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