To the editors:
Your 8/29 article quotes me as saying flatly there is an emerging consensus for putting the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT) on 42nd Street. I believe I said we might be able to document such a consensus, not I was certain it existed.
"Consensus" doesn't mean everyone agrees, only that a preponderant number agree. And they don't agree the chosen action is best, only that it's the best compromise. Forty-second Street could be that compromise.
In a democracy, people reach compromises to avoid loss of control over the future. If Douglas County doesn't reach a consensus, and quickly, our input won't affect what alignment is chosen by Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
Many citizens support the "no build" alternative. They make good arguments but haven't persuaded the majority. Court challenges could delay but probably not prevent the SLT. Many who support "no build" might reluctantly admit 42nd is the second best alternative.
Others hope a 32nd Street alignment will solve congestion on 23rd Street. Previous traffic data imply effects on 23rd would be surprisingly small. If the new traffic model data show 32nd wouldn't solve 23rd any better than 42nd does, additional people may accept 42nd as best.
Another concern is our congested 31st Street. Thirty-second Street would address it while shifting most of the county's cost to KDOT. However 32nd would be disruptive to Haskell University and Baker Wetlands and would face perhaps the strongest and longest court challenges of any alternative. Given the potential delays, additional people may accept 42nd as best.
Some believe 42nd would cause sprawl. Sprawl would also depend on the number and location of access points, on infrastructure provision, on zoning and development regulations, and on the planning time frame. If sprawl can be addressed, additional people may support 42nd St.
Fifty years from now, I hope our grandchildren can say we put the SLT in a sensible location. By then, large-scale development south of the Wakarusa is highly likely, and the SLT will be needed there.