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Archive for Saturday, December 1, 2001

SLT history

December 1, 2001

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To the editor:

As spokesman for the Committee to Elect a True Amphibian, I must correct several omissions in your history of the South Lawrence Trafficway. I was surprised to see the J-W mention "Agnes T. Frog." Her name has not appeared in the J-W since 1986. I never knew a newspaper to be so fearful of a frog.

You neglected to tell the citizens of Lawrence that:

1. The 1971 Lawrence Area Transportation Study, prepared by the State Highway Commission (now KDOT), concluded that the best SLT route was south of the Wakarusa.

2. The 1974 U.S. 59 Location Study Reconnaissance Report (State Highway Commission) presumed the SLT would go south of the Wakarusa.

3. The current SLT plan began with an illegal act. The 31st Street route was created by a Chamber of Commerce report, "Proposed South By-Pass for Lawrence, A Lawrence/Douglas County Cooperative Project." All three county commissioners (David Hopper, Warren Rhodes, and Nancy Hiebert) were on the committee. Contrary to state law, they met in secret (the Chamber is private). The proposal was then trotted over to the county courthouse where the same commissioners turned it into a public project.

4. According to the J-W (Dec. 8, 1987) a KDOT study showed only 11.5 percent of vehicles on 23rd Street continue through Lawrence, thus the SLT will have negligible effect on 23rd Street traffic.

5. Data in the 1987 environmental impact study indicated that even with the SLT, 23rd Street will reach gridlock by 2010.

If the problem is 23rd Street, let's spend the money there instead of destroying precious wetlands. It was foolish to build the western leg of the SLT without knowing the route of the eastern leg. It was wrong to omit a south-of-the-Wakarusa route in 1985. It was an egregious error to fail to include Haskell in the planning from the first. It is downright stupid to build a highway through a wetland when an alternative (south of the river) route is so close by. It will compound all these wrongs into a great travesty to force the SLT through the wetlands now.

John E. Simmons,

Lawrence

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