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Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2000

KDOT attorney to ask chamber to back SLT

August 9, 2000

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The state official who has been trying to get the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway built along 38th Street is seeking the support of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Mike Rees, chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Transportation, will meet with the chamber board of directors at 8 a.m. today to make his pitch.

"I think it's critical that the people of Lawrence be asked to stand up and say we want to ensure that this is done," he said.

Chamber President Bill Sepic said Rees may earn chamber support, but it won't be automatic.

Chamber board members have questions about Rees' proposal, which would build the trafficway along 38th Street while bulldozing the existing 31st Street through Haskell Indian Nations University.

"If we were to jump on the bandwagon, what's already been promised?" Sepic asked. "Michael has come in with a new game. We want to learn the guidelines and the rules."

Rees said that so far he has been disappointed by the amount of encouragement he is getting from Lawrence.

Specifically, he said he was surprised the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission hasn't asked that a completed 38th Street South Lawrence Trafficway be put on the city's five-year plan for federal highway funding.

"If we can't even get the planning commission to act promptly and quickly on this, then why am I bothering?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Rees said he was softening his conviction that 38th Street is the obvious choice.

He said recent traffic study numbers indicate that a 38th Street trafficway coupled with the removal of 31st Street would lead to more traffic on 23rd Street.

Rees said he hoped that a new traffic model being developed by KDOT would improve understanding of the overall traffic situation.

"We've got to go a lot further in finding out what's going on," Rees said.

Rees said he also expects to re-evaluate other traffic options, such as designating 31st Street as the Kansas Highway 10 connecting route through Lawrence and adding street lights and other improvements.

Rees was successful in gaining KDOT financing for a study of possible American Indian burial sites along the 38th Street route through the Baker Wetlands. A public meeting will be arranged to discuss the scope of that study, Rees said.

But Rees said that before KDOT will pay for the study, he needs some assurance that Haskell officials will support a 38th Street alignment.

"All I'm really looking for is some kind of acknowledgment by the board (of regents) that they will take the result of this effort in good faith," Rees said. "Are the taxpayers supposed to just throw this money out and hope it will get a reasoned reception?"

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