To the editor:
Unbelievable. Mike Rees, KDOT's chief counselor, is not only trying to prepare local businesses for their possible displacement due to KDOT's preferred SLT 32nd Street alignment (LJW 2-23). At the same time he's also trying to coerce the rest of the city into accepting this route by holding the Haskell Avenue and other local interchanges hostage for the ransom of our city commissioners' support.
Mr. Rees' words reveal that KDOT's objective has never been to help Lawrence solve local traffic problems. "Rees said it (the Haskell Avenue interchange) might be cut from the project because it mainly would serve local traffic needs." Cut because it serves local traffic needs? Wasn't the SLT intended to help serve local traffic needs? "With the city's lack of interest (in the 32nd Street alignment), we feel like we could do away with all the interchanges except for the one on the eastern end at K-10 and the one at Highway 59. That's really all we need to serve the state's needs."
These statements by KDOT attempt to pressure our city commissioners to accept an unacceptable route that would damage the historic, natural Haskell-Baker wetlands and an untold number of local businesses. This, and it would not be far enough away from Lawrence to be an effective bypass for our city. This, without even replacing 31st Street, but displacing it to run alongside. What the SLT will be is a convenient conduit for high volumes of traffic between Kansas City and Topeka (and other western destinations), with all its concomitant pollution and congestion.
The 32nd Street alignment is a bad idea, propelled to the front burner by a treacherous deal between KDOT and Baker University. Now, KDOT would try to coerce Lawrence into accepting it, with threats of removing access for local traffic if we don't show support. The present SLT plan and Mr. Rees' statements reveal the entire SLT project for what it really is: a state project addressing state needs and agendas local impacts, concerns, needs and considerations be damned. Please, let's not be bullied. Let's address our local traffic problems with local solutions.