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Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2001

Local briefs

July 12, 2001

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Traffic: KDOT officials to use study to evaluate SLT noise levels

A study of the noise levels along the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway is getting under way.

Mike Rees, chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said the department will measure current noise levels along the five possible alignments. He said KDOT officials will pay special attention to residential areas, Baker Wetlands and south of the Wakarusa River.

Rees said the department will use the information, combined with traffic numbers, to project future noise levels if the trafficway is completed.

If the noise levels are detrimental to the area and wildlife, he said, KDOT may choose to build a berm or plant trees to cut down on the noise level, and it may do so anyway as part of the mitigation package. A bicycle path also could be included if a berm is built, Rees said.

The noise study will be included in KDOT's draft environmental impact statement, which is expected to be released later this year.

Investigation: Fires blamed on fireworks

Errant fireworks caused the Fourth of July fire that destroyed four units at Bradford Square Apartments, Lawrence officials announced Wednesday.

"Based on the physical evidence, interviews and the fact that all other sources were ruled out and that fireworks were in use in the area, it's our determination that fireworks were, in fact, the cause of the fire at 501 Colorado," Lawrence Fire Marshall Rich Barr said.

Seventeen tenants were displaced by the fire.

Barr said his office will not recommend filing criminal charges because it's unclear who ignited the firework that caused the fire. Also, city ordinances do not prohibit fireworks on July 2-4.

The building's owner, Dan Bloom, rural Eudora, said he expects building replacement to cost $350,000 to $400,000.

"I'm a big believer in punitiveness," Bloom said. "If I could go after someone, I would. But in a situation like this, I don't know who it would be."

Bloom said he's fully insured.

Barr said the State Fire Marshal ruled that a July 2 fire that destroyed a vacant house at 1513 Haskell Ave. also was caused by fireworks.

Community festival: Oskaloosa celebrates 100 years of history

Tonight kicks off a flurry of activities marking the 100th anniversary of the annual Old Settler's Reunion. The three-day event will take place around Oskaloosa's town square.

The event will include oral history presentations as well as discounted carnival rides, arts and crafts booths, live ragtime music and old-time fiddle songs by an area duo, Kelly and Diana Wertz.

Car crash blocks Turnpike

A car hydroplaned during a Wednesday morning storm on Interstate 70 near Lecompton, causing a three-vehicle accident and blocking traffic in both directions, the Kansas Turnpike Patrol said.

James Irwin, Corsicana, Tex., a passenger in a semi-tractor trailer, suffered a back injury and was transported by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He was in good condition late Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The accident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. when an eastbound 1999 Chevrolet sedan driven by John C. Hutchens, 24, Topeka, hydroplaned and began spinning, a patrol report said.

The Chevrolet and semi-truck, a 1999 Kenworth, collided, causing the Kenworth to crash through concrete median barrier into the westbound lanes, the report said. The Kenworth went into a ditch. It was driven by Donald R. Raymond, 54, Cayuga, Tex., the report said.

A westbound 1993 Chrysler sedan was damaged when it was struck by debris, the report said. It was driven by Gilbert L. Hess Jr., 70, Bellevue, Mich.

The Kenworth's trailer, cars and debris blocked multiple lanes in both directions until the scene was cleared about 9:30 a.m., a patrol dispatcher said.

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