Archive for Friday, December 15, 2006

Take a look at SLT options

December 15, 2006


Here's a look at some of the comparisons between the two proposed routes for the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway:

¢ Cost. The 32nd Street route would cost $123.1 million in 2007 dollars. The 42nd Street route would cost $175.8 million in 2007 dollars.

¢ Environment. The 32nd Street route would disturb 58 acres of wetlands, but mitigation plans call for the purchase of several pieces of ground that would be added to the wetlands complex. The purchases would include 247 acres to be converted into a wet meadow, 37 acres to use as tallgrass prairie and 16 acres that would be converted to riparian woodlands.

The 32nd Street mitigation package also includes 17 acres of man-made wetlands that already have been constructed near the Baker Wetlands.

The 42nd Street route would disturb 3.07 acres of wetlands, but mitigation plans call for 80 acres of wetland and habitat enhancement. That includes the purchase of 63 acres of farmland near the Baker Wetlands to be converted to a wet meadow and the use of 17 acres of existing man-made wetlands.

¢ Amenities. The mitigation plan for the 32nd Street route includes the construction, at state expense, of a 10,000-square-foot cultural wetland center that will be operated by Baker University. The center would have classrooms and exhibit space, and be connected to a new trail and boardwalk area.

The state also is proposing hike and bike trails that would link the wetland center with Mary's Lake and the city's Prairie Park Nature Center. The state is proposing to provide annuity to Baker University to cover annual operation costs for the wetlands and the center.

The plan also calls for a camping area in the southwest quarter of the wetlands. The wetlands area would be served by three new parking lots to provide easier access to visitors. Two trails would be built to connect Haskell with the wetlands area.

The 42nd Street route would provide one new parking lot for the Baker Wetlands area.

¢ Local streets. The 32nd Street plan would, at state expense, relocate the portions of Haskell Avenue that border the wetlands farther east and the portions of Louisiana Street farther west to create a buffer area around the wetlands. The state also would pay to move the existing 31st Street slightly south to take it off Haskell property. The land the street currently sits on would be turned over to Haskell for use as a wetland.

The 42nd Street route would not move any portion of Haskell, Louisiana or 31st Street. The state has only committed to reconstruct any roads that are directly affected by the construction.

¢ Relocations. The 32nd Street route would cause four homes and four businesses to be relocated and sever 11 farms. The 42nd Street route would cause three homes and one business to be relocated and sever 12 farms.


donsalsbury 11 years, 3 months ago

Oh, heck, at this point, if adding that much wetland area and moving all the streets around the wetlands doesn't appease the opponents, spend the extra money and get it done ASAP. I'm tired of all the traffic. Besides, the opponents who live in Lawrence & Kansas pay the tax money, too.

Just build the darn thing already!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

Take it south as a bypass not a trafficway as a practical matter. That is where the growth obviously is taking place. Following through with a 22 year old plan will not meet the needs of Lawrence. The original south bypass concept is/was a display of planning ahead. Building anywhere close to a city is thinking obsolete.

Doing 42nd street saves tax dollars because it does address long term growth. How you say? There is on the local table from the real estate industry a plan for both the trafficway and a south of the river plan. Louis McElheney presented this concept 18-24 months ago in a public meeting.

This city does not need two and I do not want to spend my tax dollars that way. What we do not know is how much of a Douglas County tax increase will be required to build the roadway. One tax increase is enough. 42nd street is the practical solution....only if it stays completely out of the wetlands.

conservative 11 years, 3 months ago

merrill, there's an obvious flaw in your thinking.

If you want it to remain a bypass (not congested traffic fighting through stop lights) then the answer is 32nd street. If it is going through the wetlands then there certainly won't be commercial buildings going up on the surrounding area. With no buildings there is no need for extra exits and stoplights. Going south of the river puts it right where the city planners expect the next growth spurt for Lawrence. Putting it there guarantees it becomes a trafficway and not a bypass.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

If 42nd or any other than 32nd is chosen by KDOT guess who has assured KDOT serious opposition will erupt?

A hint: think County Commissioner and a founder of Douglas County Development Inc who was forced to resign his board position after being elected.

The real estate community will challenge any route except the wetlands. But then the real estate industry was the most vocal opponent to the SE Lawrence Industrial site.

No matter which is chosen KDOT likely will be looking at lawsuits.

Doug Harvey 11 years, 2 months ago

True wetlands cannot be "built" because of the anaerobic character of wetland soils -- which is part of what makes them wetlands. The only reasonable choice is and has been 42nd St. Just because short-sighted developers assumed they could bulldoze anything they wanted when the first half of the bypass was built, doesn't mean we should continue their folly. Even with the 42nd St. route, it's still a case of public expense, private profit; something developers already assume will happen. We pay for the road -- they pocket all the profits from the so-called development. The road should at least be sensitive to local concerns -- stay out of the damn wetlands, there are many good reasons to leave them alone -- that doesn't seem hard to me.

conservative 11 years, 2 months ago

tenstring????? Does that mean we don't have wetlands in Lawrence? The area referred to as Wetlands was farmland less than 100 years ago. If it truly isn't possible to engineer wetlands then we don't have any to protect.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 2 months ago

They are wetlands that were damaged and have subsequently undergone substantial restoration. It's really as simple as that.

But the important point is that area was land that belonged to Haskell, was transferred inappropriately (perhaps even illegally) but still has great cultural significance to the Indians for which Haskell was created in order to satisfy treaty obligations made by the US government and its citizens.

Lawrence and the US government have had a truly shameful record of honoring those treaty obiligations with respect to Haskell. We as a city could go a long way towards making amends for this truly despicable behaviour by returning these wetlands to Haskell, and buidling the SLT south of the river.

Failure to do so will be one of the most shameful and despicable acts in a long line of shameful and despicable acts.

optimist 11 years, 2 months ago

The 32nd street alignment is the only real solution to the traffic problems. People will be less likely to use the trafficway if it goes out as far as 42nd street.

The wetlands issue is a smoke screen for the anti-development establishment. I used to live in the northeast and the state over the last 50 years or so created thousands of acres of conservation wetlands. I was there I saw them, it can be done. The wildlife didn't appear to know the difference.

bugmenot 11 years, 2 months ago

Tenstring is correct; that soil is wetlands soil. It's not something you can just pick up and plop down somewhere else. Ye, the area that is now the wetlands was farmland 100 years ago, but before that, it was wetlands. Just because someone made the mistake of destroying it once doesn't mean we should permanently destroy it by paving over it. People just want to have their cake and eat it, too - "I want to live in Lawrence which is getting bigger by the day, but I don't like the traffic - fix it so I can get what I want right now. Fragile ecosystems be damned!"

bugmenot 11 years, 2 months ago

Maybe if the scary right-wingers didn't dumb down science in this state, people wouldn't think you can just "make" wetlands. It's not a smokescreen; just because you're too short-sighted to see how a delicate ecosystem benefits you and other Kansans infinitely more than getting to Wal-Mart faster does not mean that their right to exist is extinguishable at your whim.

bugmenot 11 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, bozo on the bus, for mentioning that. I can't believe how much people feel that they can ignore the rights of Native Americans in this city (and this country). We're home to Haskell, for crying out loud; you'd think people in this city would be more sensitive.

Downplaying the Native American rights argument and the ecological arguments over the SLT is just a smokescreen by the pro-development establishment. It's a heck of a lot easier to redirect development than to "rebuild" fragile ecosystems, and it's a heck of a lot more respectful of a culture from whom we have taken much.

conservative 11 years, 2 months ago

Correction, they were not wetland prior to being farmed. They were an area that was wet when the river was up, and were dry when it was down. Not the same thing at all. The only reason they are wetlands now is because the river has been damned and controlled, and dikes have been put in to keep the area constantly wet.

The area that would be created as new wetlands were also previous flood zones and therefore have the same type of soil as the current wetlands.

bugmenot 11 years, 2 months ago

Pretty sure the river wasn't "damned" so much as it was "dammed."

bugmenot 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty sure that's not all consistently wetlands soil in the relocation area, but even assuming it is, if the whole point of the SLT is to recognize that development is trending in that direction, it won't do much good to relocate the wetlands further south. Development will follow the SLT, and before you know it, people will be making the argument that they can just as easily be relocated a little further out to make room for the city's 3rd Wal Mart or more cardboard houses. Moving the wetlands just sets a precedent that they have no connection to the ground they're located in now and can be moved to serve the city's whim. Gosh, sounds A LOT like what they did to Native Americans...

conservative 11 years, 2 months ago

Ooops on the damned / dammed thing.

The point of the SLT is to get more traffic off of other city streets. Adding an extra couple of miles to the project will limit some of it's appeal. Also if the 32nd alignment is used then Haskell gets back the land that is currently taken up by 31st street, and the additional wetlands area will receive a protected status that will prevent future use.

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

Well well Well. Looks like we will debate the SLT untill we build the NLT.

Politicaly speaking, we could increase the cost of the SLT by placing roundabouts in several locations.

Also, we shold eliminate bridges on the SLT. Bridges seem to be a sticking point for building this project. I think anyhow

kcwarpony 11 years, 2 months ago

Comment Period Extended to January 19, 2007

In response to public interest, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has extended the review and comment period for its Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation of the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT) to January 19, 2007. The review and comment period opened November 14, 2006. All comments on the Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation now must be submitted in writing on or before January 19, 2007 to Wendall L. Meyer, Assistant Division Administrator, FHWA, Kansas Division Office, 6111 SW 29th Street, Topeka, KS 66614. Anyone who has questions may contact Mr. Meyer at 785-228-2544. The FHWA will consider all comments received as it develops the Final Section 4(f) Evaluation. For more information.

lounger 11 years ago

bad idea!!! you cannot just wave a majic wond and create wetlands!!! talk about converting x amount of acres here and there doesnt always work as well in reality as on paper. leave it alone is the message that has been sent to these hard headed people for ages!! and by the way what business is it of towns up the road to support the SLT? sometimes i think if lawrence wasnt a town in kansas it would be a very scary state!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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