Lansing The state's transportation secretary says she doesn't know what effect a letter from the city of Lawrence opposing a 32nd Street alignment for the South Lawrence Trafficway's eastern leg will have on federal highway officials.
Last month, a split Lawrence City Commission approved sending a letter to the Federal Highway Administration opposing a trafficway route through the Baker Wetlands along 32nd Street.
Deb Miller, Kansas secretary of transportation, was in Lansing on Thursday to attend a ceremony marking the start of a multimillion-dollar local-state project here.
She talked afterward about the trafficway and the City Commission's letter.
"It's certainly a factor that the Federal Highway Administration will have to take into consideration, without question," Miller said of the city's letter.
The Federal Highway Administration recently closed a public comment period on whether to accept a recommendation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the bypass on a 32nd Street alignment. Such a route would continue through the Baker Wetlands before hooking the trafficway into Kansas Highway 10 east of the city.
Miller acknowledged there were plenty of people lining up on both sides of the controversy, though she said she believed there was broad community support for completing the trafficway.
"The Federal Highway Administration will have to take all of that input, and they will have to weigh it and make a final decision about whether or not it's necessary to reopen the issue of alignment on this particular project," Miller said.
Miller said people should remember that the corps made the recommendation for the 32nd Street alignment after going through an "exhaustive process."
"The corps' mission is to protect wetlands, and with that mission very much in their mind, they determined that 32nd Street was not only the best alignment for this project but was the best way to protect the wetlands," Miller said. "So a great deal of thought has gone into how to do this roadway in a way which will not be harmful long-term."
Nevertheless, Miller said the alignment question wasn't the most overriding issue facing the trafficway.
She identified funding as the biggest obstacle.
"The South Lawrence Trafficway would be another example of a transportation need for which there is not currently funding," she said. "It's probably a $100-million-plus project. So the biggest issue, I think, is lining up funding."
- Lansing Current Editor John Taylor can be reached at (913) 727-1525.