To the editor:
My recent visits to the Baker Wetlands have compelled me to add my voice to those of others who oppose completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Twice in the past two weeks I have walked the wetlands, gathering last season's cattails and cottonwood leaves for an art project. The waters there teemed with frogs, and the stands of cattails sheltered red-winged blackbirds. Canada geese flew low across the marsh, and pencil-thin snakes glided away from the footpath. During one visit, as my friend and I settled down on the boardwalk for lunch, a class of biology students from Haskell Indian Nations University filed past, scanning the marsh and taking notes.
I marvel at this inhabited space, this place for learning, so close to town, so full of sound and considered sacred by many. I marvel, too, at how we take it for granted.
What would we gain by building the SLT's eastern leg? An expanded wetlands? A nature center? Diversion of through-traffic away from Indian Hills? We could carry out any of these projects if we really wanted them without building a $90 million highway. This new highway through the wetlands or south of the Wakarusa would bring its neighbors new traffic, noise and poorly planned development all to save a few minutes' travel time.
As long as we continue to suppose we need the things that come from building more highways, we will continue to destroy much of what sustains us.