The state highway department may be willing to let a specially convened committee determine the route of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Mike Rees, chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said Thursday that Haskell Indian Nations University was working to bring together representatives of several groups to try to find the best route for completion of the trafficway, which has been tied up in controversy for years.
Through a series of mediated discussions, Rees said, consensus would be sought on which of the five routes the final leg of the bypass should take.
"Then that (finding) would become part of the environmental documentation and would be a very significant factor in making that determination of an alignment," he said.
Haskell President Karen Swisher initially brought up the idea of forming a consensus committee to discuss trafficway issues in February. Nothing happened at that time.
Then, Rees said, Haskell attorney Ronald Manka contacted him on Wednesday and Thursday about forming the group.
"That idea has resurfaced," he said. "I have no idea why it's coming up now."
Manka declined to comment, and Swisher was not available for comment.
Rees said it's his understanding Haskell would take the lead in contacting interested individuals and organizations to participate in the discussions. He said he hoped the committee would convene within the next month to begin a series of mediated discussions aimed at finding a route anywhere from 31st Street just south of the Haskell campus to south of the Wakarusa River.
"If a consensus was reached, it would be a big factor in our decision in what we could do," he said.