Archive for Tuesday, November 22, 2005

KDOT studies ways to spend SLT money

$1.5 million from federal government might be used to create wetlands

November 22, 2005


Don't expect bulldozers to begin rolling through the Baker Wetlands anytime soon, despite $1.5 million in new federal funding for the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Sally Howard, chief counsel for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said the most likely use of the money - secured by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts as part of a federal transportation bill approved Friday - would be to allow Baker University to begin transplanting vegetation from the wetlands to an area west of Louisiana Street and south of 31st Street.

The area - now a farm field near the Wakarusa River, which runs about a mile south of 31st Street - would serve as a new manmade wetlands to help road builders meet a requirement to replace each acre of wetlands lost due to construction of the trafficway, which would connect Interstate 70 west of Lawrence to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence via a path through the Baker Wetlands.

But no actual road building would begin under the project.

"I know that is not nearly as aggressive as some people would like," Howard said. "I know some people might envision us bringing the bulldozers in and getting started. I hope the community realizes that just isn't possible."


Starting roadwork would start the clock on a two-year window in which construction within the wetlands must be completed. Howard said KDOT wouldn't trigger that requirement without knowing the source of the remaining $110 million needed to complete the project.

Some supporters of the trafficway had hoped the $1.5 million in funding would allow the state to start enough action to spur a lawsuit from opponents of the road. Many SLT supporters believe a lawsuit would be beneficial to the project because it would resolve legal issues surrounding the road once and for all, and make it more likely state legislators would include the project in their funding plans.

City Commissioner David Schauner said he doubted the federal funding would do anything to help move the road project forward.

"It is obviously not enough to accomplish anything," Schauner said.

Schauner also criticized Roberts for including the $1.5 million funding - which specifically was earmarked for a road that went through the wetlands - in the transportation bill.

"I think it would be nice if the senator would ask the City Commission of Lawrence what it would like," said Schauner, who said the commission was never consulted about funding.

A spokeswoman with Roberts' office did not return messages seeking comment on the criticism, but in a release on Friday, Roberts said the project was "long overdue" and was important in creating a new life sciences corridor between Kansas State University and Kansas City.

Howard said KDOT had not requested the funding and also had not spoken with Roberts about it.

"Honestly, we were a bit surprised by the funding," Howard said. "We didn't know the funding was coming."

Legal limbo

She said for that reason she couldn't definitively say how the money would be used. KDOT Secretary Deb Miller and other staff members would need to have internal conversations before signing off on the idea to use the money for wetland mitigation.

Howard also said she was uncertain whether work on the wetlands mitigation would spark a lawsuit from trafficway opponents. Attempts to reach Bob Eye, an attorney who has represented trafficway opponents, were unsuccessful. Howard said her office continued to seek ways to have a court rule on the legal issues surrounding the road absent a lawsuit from opponents.

KDOT also wants to continue to monitor Mayor Boog Highberger's efforts to build consensus for a route south of the Wakarusa River, Howard said.

Highberger said he was continuing to have private meetings with community members and was sensing more support for a south-of-the-river route. Highberger said that's why he was a bit baffled by the new federal funding for the Baker Wetlands route.

"My sense was that the funding may not be unrelated to my efforts to look at an alternative route," Highberger said.

Howard said the department had no timeline on deciding how to use the $1.5 million.


ckirby 12 years, 7 months ago

Now that the federal government is involved with the wetlands again, doesn't it require the environmental impact statements to be done? Especially before one flower is touched? This was partially avoided before when it was just the state involvement.

The assessment of burial done before was not valid for two reasons. One the measurement was only a foot and a half down and two it had to measure through water, which it does not do. Most bodies are usually buried below that footage. Proof of the children buried there lies in the National archives.

Violations were made when Clinton Parkway was built in disrupting burial sites, Kansas Code 75-2741. These are just two violations. On this Thanksgiving day, let us stop a moment and think of the atrocities and terriorism inflicted on Native Peoples and think twice about repeating these violations.

walrus 12 years, 7 months ago

Maybe we should take the 1.5 mill and plant it in the field southwest of 31st and Louisiana or we could put it in a barrel in the middle of the bridge and set it on fire. The direction of the smoke from the burning money will tell us which side of the Wakarusa to build the road. If the results are inconclusive, simply shovel in more cash.

BDub 12 years, 7 months ago

My only hope is that figuring out what to do with this money might force the issue and somebody might actually take a leadership role and make this thing happen. At this point, very few care where it gets built, as long as it gets built. I agree - BUILD THE DAMN ROAD!

bankboy119 12 years, 7 months ago

kirby, it was 200 years ago. The atrocities have passed. Build the road.

pt 12 years, 7 months ago

1.5 million to move the plant life...isn't that considered misuse of funds? Surely the plant life in the wetlands isn't so rare that it can't be found elsewhere and brought over. I love the wetlands and visit on a regular basis, but people are getting in a ton of wrecks and accidents daily because of the congestion in Lawrence. If the trafficway could prevent some of these accidents, shouldn't human life take precidence over plant life?

Jamesaust 12 years, 7 months ago

uhhh....why don't we use this money to rebuild wetlands in Louisiana? I didn't know the government had got its hands on an extra $1.5m. If the money can't be used for useful purposes, perhaps we need a $1.5m tax cut - I'll take my share.

Confrontation 12 years, 7 months ago

Why don't we find out where Bankboy119's ancestors are buried, and we could invest the money in building a road over their graves. Just an idea.

kcwarpony 12 years, 6 months ago

High winds in northern sky will carry you away You know you have to leave here You wish that you could stay There's four directions on this map But you're only going one way

Due south, that's the way I'm going Due south, saddle up my travelling shoes I'm bound to walk away these blues

Due south, Due south

Raider 12 years, 7 months ago

Take the $1.5m to put in a Casino and a Smoke shop. See how fast the road would be built.

hobb2264 12 years, 7 months ago

I hope you enjoy your approximately 1/100 of a penny James. Try not to spend it all in one place. :-)

kcwarpony 12 years, 7 months ago

"it was 200 years ago. The atrocities have passed. Build the road." bankboy119, It has not been that long ago. My father who as born in the 1930's was taken away from his family at the age of eight and sent to an Indian boarding school. He was beaten everytime he was caught speaking his native language. If he resisted, the beaten was made worse. I never heard my father utter one word of our language. And these things happened only 70 years ago. This is our history and it is the same history that is a part of Haskell, along with the slave labor that was used here. We haven't forgotten and we won't let it be swept under some road.

cowboy 12 years, 7 months ago

With all due respect to your father and your ancestors , at what point do you releive yourself of your acquired anger and move forward ? I have seen first hand the sorry state of native life from the 60's in southwest reservations and "indian schools ' in Phoenix area. But as with all people we have to overcome our past.

kcwarpony 12 years, 7 months ago

cowboy, Granted, some Indians are still very angry, I get angry when I hear people make off handed and uneducated comments like the one from bankboy119 or like the ones from the likes of Raider. I believe there are graves out there and I do not want them to be disturbed. The ancestors who are out there have been through enough and I would like for them to be left alone. That is all I am saying. Every group of people have something from their past that must be dealt with and overcome. Some of that "dealing" has been done with self-medicating, with alcohol. I have seen in other Internet forums were that fact is being used in an insulting manner and the made reason why our concerns should be overlooked. You must remember we are dealing with a recent past and doing the best we can. I am sorry your home will be affected by the southern route and I am not happy about that either but I am doing what I believe to be right, as are you. We will have to, as they say, "agree to disagree".

betterday 12 years, 7 months ago

you don't have to build thru it just build over it and go on your way . IT'S JUST SEEMS THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DAMAGE TO THE WETLAND S . but that's my opinon

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 6 months ago

It appears to me that after 20 years of arguing and fighting over this road, it will never be built in my lifetime. If it is built at all. What a waste of money, millions spent fighting in court against those who seem to live to try and contradict every improvement the great city of Lawrence tries to make. So sad, especially when the road is really needed. Thank you, Lynn

Mike Ford 12 years, 6 months ago

to bankboy 119 and cowboy, you have no clue. It's not holding onto the past when it's it's happening now, and the perpetrators are oblivious to how they're mimicking their ancestor's actions. In 1985, a group of concerned Pawnee men saw their ancestor's burial site displayed as a roadside attraction in Salina, Kansas, for $5.00 a person to view. Their ancestors had been at this spot for over 1,000 years, and now a bunch of ethnocentric interlopers were able to view these Pawnee people as trophies of colonization. This viewing and intervention by the Pawnee men led to the Kansas Unmarked Burials Act of 1989, and contributed to the legislation for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Museums had to give back skeletal remains and funeral objects to their rightful owners. Uneducated "pot-hunting" white trash could no longer mine rightful cemeteries to sell to unscrupled anthropologists on the black market.

Until you've been beaten for your language, stripped of most of your land, and mocked by the thieve's descendants who claim innocence for these attrocities while they're benfitting from the theft, as Baker has, you have no clue. You are not from here, you do not know what this land was called before Columbus, before Lief Ericson, Before Juan De Onate, or any of the other culture erasers.

We are carrying on the good fight. If someone doesn't like it, I'll repeat the answer my ancestors gave in the Okla Hannali District ( now southern Mississippi), LEAVE! and take your traffic and sprawl with you.

Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

$1.5 million. Only 1 per cent of the amount needed to complete the project, but plenty enough to get the lawyers out sniffing around. We would be better off to tell Congress thanks, but no thanks.

a_new_voice 12 years, 6 months ago

Have we learned nothing? Your ancestors were discriminated against as were many, many others who were not Native-American. It's time for us all to move on together.

Can we not just work together to find a solution? All of us should be part of the solution; otherwise, we're part of the problem.

Mike Ford 12 years, 6 months ago

actually, Don Henley, who wrote this horrible song with the Eagles, Pilgrim, (how ironically named), is a proponent of the Walden Woods area in Massachusetts, an area that Mr Henry David Thoreau sought to preserve. Mr Henley also sought to preserve it a couple of years ago from developers (Go figure, they're everywhere, and the scourge of the earth in some cases). Mr. Thoreau realized that land was Nipmuc and Wampanoag land, and sought to preserve it in it's pristine state, as he sought refuge there while protesting the Mexican War of the 1840's by not paying his taxes and going to prison for his convictions. If you're advocating what's causing the problem, and you're not smart enough to become part of the solution, why don't you get over you illusions of conservative grandeur. Let's see, denial of economic ruin, check, denial of getting served in Iraq, for being there for the wrong reasons (Like this country REALLY knows anything about democracy except about how to search out and install puppets), check, running this country into the ground with flawed medicaid plans, flawed educational plans, you name it, check. Guess what, "Hot air" people's day's are numbered. Reality's circling you, and so are we. You get over it and start running.

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