Archive for Monday, May 1, 2006

Residents to drive Highway 24-40 study

May 1, 2006

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— Smooth sailing calls for concise planning.

That's why officials soon will select a firm to study U.S. Highway 24-40 from Kansas Highway 7 east of Basehor to County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie.

The 24-40 corridor is a four-lane highway linking Lawrence to the Kansas City area through southern Leavenworth County.

Only three stoplights - two in Tonganoxie and one in Basehor - control traffic on a 10-mile stretch through Leavenworth County.

Darryl Fields, the Mid-America Regional Council's project manager of the 24-40 corridor study, said he's working with Leavenworth County and the cities of Basehor and Tonganoxie, as well as the Kansas Department of Transportation, on the study.

Basically, Fields said, it will address this question, "What do we need to do to keep 24-40 a smooth corridor and still provide impetus to promote economic development?"

Officials say this is a critical traffic corridor where land alongside the road is likely to undergo intense development - which leads to even more traffic.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke said the study will look at a two-mile-wide swath of land along the corridor - or a mile on each side of 24-40. Oroke said if development - and corridor access roads - are not controlled, studies predict that by the year 2030 it will take 12 minutes longer to drive from Tonganoxie to Basehor on 24-40.

And, according to Fields, the study will consider the proposed construction of a turnpike interchange on Leavenworth County Road 1.

'Public-driven'

Fields said these firms submitted bids: Wilbur Smith, Lee's Summit; HNTB, Overland Park; Cook Flatt and Strobel, Kansas City, Mo.; Parsons Brinckerhoff, Quade and Douglas, Lenexa; HDR, Kansas City, Mo.; and Bucher Willis and Ratliff, Kansas City, Mo.

The bids ranged from $249,000 to $307,000. The study's budget is $250,000, Fields said.

Members of the consultant selection team will narrow the six bidders to three and then, after hearing formal presentations, will make a selection. Fields said it was likely a consulting firm would be decided the first week in June.

Though it's important to select the right consultant team, Fields said the public's input is important as well.

"This whole process is greatly public-driven," Fields said, "It can't be done in a vacuum. The voting public are the people that use it on an everyday basis, so their input is the most important thing."

Fields said at least four public meetings will be held during the consultant's yearlong study. There will be a kickoff meeting this summer. And the meetings, which will be held in the Basehor/Tonganoxie area, will be easily accessible to corridor residents.

"The citizens who live along the corridor will drive the meeting, and they will drive the study," Fields said.

Leavenworth County's chief planner, Chris Dunn, said this was an important step.

"It's really pretty exciting," Dunn said. "This is going to be a major growth area of the county, and we want to make sure we do it right."

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