Archive for Saturday, May 13, 2006

Letter outlines officials’ opposition to SLT route

May 13, 2006


A majority of city commissioners are turning up the volume in their opposition to a 32nd Street route for the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Commissioners on Tuesday are set to approve a letter that tells federal highway officials reviewing the project that the City Commission "objects in the strongest terms" to a route that would run the bypass project through the Baker Wetlands.

"I want the regulators to understand the divisive impact this route would have on the community because of the impacts it would have on Haskell (Indian Nations University) and the wetlands," said City Commissioner Boog Highberger, who is one of three commissioners pushing the Federal Highway Administration to reverse a previous federal decision that approved a route through the wetlands.

That trio of commissioners - which also includes Mike Rundle and David Schauner - have said they want a route considered that would run south of the Wakarusa River.

The trafficway would connect Interstate 70 west of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence. The western portion of the road has been completed, but the eastern section has been mired in controversy about whether the road should run through the wetlands area adjacent to Haskell.

Two of the five commissioners - Mayor Mike Amyx and Commissioner Sue Hack - have stated strong support for the 32nd Street route. On Friday, both said they still support that route.

"I still think it makes all the sense in the world," Amyx said of the 32nd Street route, which would provide state funding to also improve 31st Street, Haskell Avenue and Louisiana Street, in addition to creating new wetlands to compensate for the acreage that would be lost to the road.

But Amyx said if the letter won approval Tuesday night, he would do his mayoral duty and sign it.

The letter as it currently is drafted spells out several reasons why city commissioners believe federal regulators should rethink the 32nd Street route. They include:

¢ the environmental and cultural significance of the wetlands. "The Lawrence community considers the wetland a local natural treasure," the letter states.

¢ the recent approval of a new interchange along the Kansas Turnpike that would be several miles east of Lawrence near Tonganoxie. City commissioners said in the letter that the new interchange could change traffic patterns enough to affect the "need and location" of the eastern leg of the trafficway.

¢ plans for a new sewer treatment plant have opened the area south of the Wakarusa River for growth. Commissioners argue that previous reviews of the project have not adequately accounted for that growth and its transportation needs.

Highberger said the impending growth points to the need to move the trafficway to a location south of the Wakarusa River, because if built on a 32nd Street route the trafficway soon would be surrounded by the city.

"I have a strong level of concern that this road won't meet our long-term transportation needs if it is built on the 32nd Street route," Highberger said. "And I know there won't be the money for two roads."

Supporters of the 32nd Street route, though, took exception to that logic. Douglas County Commissioner Bob Johnson said the 32nd Street route is needed because it best accommodates today's traffic. The need for a future south-of-the-river road should be discussed after the current needs are met, he said.

"That would be like Kansas City saying it should never have built (Interstate) 435, because at some point they needed (Interstate) 635," Johnson said. "That is just nonsense."

The Federal Highway Administration is studying the trafficway project after Sen. Pat Roberts was successful in garnering $1.5 million in federal funding. But the new federal funding requires a review by the federal agency.

Federal highway leaders, though, have said they would like to adopt the previous study of the project conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That study concluded a 32nd Street route was the best for the project.


cowboy 12 years ago

Mike & Sue , keep your backbone and do not sign this letter by the three communists !

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

This is what the community is expecting:

A bypass is a road or highway that avoids (bypasses) a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety. In the Interstate highway system in the USA, bypasses and loops are designated with a three digit number beginning with an even digit.

Not This: If there are no strong land use controls, buildings are built along a bypass, converting it into an ordinary town road, and the bypass may eventually become as congested as the local streets it was intended to avoid.

Not this: Definitions of trafficway: ¢ Any road, street, or highway open to the public as a matter of right or custom for moving persons or property from one place to another.

A trafficway does not accomplish the same effort as a bypass. It wouldn't be long before the trafficway will be very congested due to new housing(we cannot afford) and commercial strip malls. Why? Because Lawrence city activity is too close. The SLT at this location was obsolete and dysfunctional from day one. There is a traffic light at the YSI so called (dangerous) intersection on the trafficway. No way is this a bypass. This will not do the job. Developers will be asking for another south of the river roadway in short order.

A south of the river bypass is on the minds of Bob Johnson,Louie McElheney and apparently Comm. Sue Hack. A bypass is certainly more practical than a trafficway. Why not spend the $150-$200 million prudently for a bypass that will meet area future needs as well as needs of today.

A SOR bypass certainly will aid a sizable portion of our 12,000-15,000 daily commuters. Ten to fifteen years ago we did not have this problem which basically deems the trafficway plan obsolete. Running the bypass SOR to the K-10/1057 interchange will assist the new drivers planned for developing SE Lawrence and throughout that part of the county. It's time to let go of a plan that is going on 30 years old and move forward not to mention being more practical with scarce tax dollars.

The plan below potentially assists Douglas, Jefferson,Leavenworth and southern Johnson county drivers. It would also provide a complete loop around Lawrence thus eliminating non Lawrence traffic.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Taking the SLT south of the river to interchange 1057 and K10 could take traffic north to I 70 as well. This accomplishes many things. A. Services JOCO and Douglas County traffic going to NW Lawrence or Topeka B. Services the Eudora Business Park east of 1057 C. Services East Hills Business Park and the SE Work Center area west of 1057 D. Diverts traffic out around the city as it should E. Keeps the SLT entirely out of the wetlands F. HNTB has researched SLT/1057 option but was never put on the table H. Reduces traffic substantially on 31st Working with the Kansas Turnpike Authority could save Douglas County taxpayers untold millions of dollars. Building this road at any cost at this point in time is simply not prudent use of Douglas County tax dollars.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Wetlands Saves Tax Dollars: Economical and Fiscal Pollution Control Wetlands filter water for free and thus lower the need for, or the loadings into, wastewater and drinking water treatment plants. Further loss of wetlands will lead to increased need for treatment plants and clean-up strategies. Water Supply Wetlands and major retention basins, providing large quantities of clean water for municipalities. Wetland losses will lead to loss of quality water supplies, requiring costly searches for new sources of water. Flood Control Wetlands help control flooding, and thus prevent the need for costly flood control projects. A one-acre wetland holds 330,000 gallons of water if flooded to one foot. Shipping By filtering tributaries and runoff, wetlands hold back vast amounts of sediment that would fill up navigation channels, saving hundreds of millions of tax dollars in dredging costs. Property Protection By preventing flooding and by acting as wave barrier to prevent coastal erosion, wetlands prevent loss of property. Property Values By serving as scenic open space and ad visual and sound buffers, wetlands enhance a community's amenities and therefore its property values. Tourism and Recreation By producing so much wildlife and fish, by serving as scenic open space, and by protecting water quality, wetlands greatly benefit businesses based on fishing, boating, hunting, swimming, and sightseeing, including the lodging, restaurant and service sector. Food Wetlands produce much of the fish harvested by the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries, and are the only place where cranberry, wild rice and other wetland crops can be grown. Natural Resources Wetland produce most of the furbearers for the trapping industry. Forest wetlands can be an important source of timber when managed properly. Fiscal and Tax Savings By performing all the above benefits for free, wetlands save billions of tax dollars by avoiding the need for costly flood, erosion, pollution control, dredging and water supply projects. They bring in fiscal revenues by supporting the recreation, tourism, food and service industries. By enhancing residential property values, they maintain higher tax revenues.

Baille 12 years ago


South of the river.

And with no interchange at Louisiana no matter where it is built.

Baille 12 years ago

""That would be like Kansas City saying it should never have built (Interstate) 435, because at some point they needed (Interstate) 635," Bob Johnson said. "That is just nonsense.""

That statement is nonsense, Bob. A road south of the river is only marginally removed from the 32nd alignment unlike the vast difference between 435 and 635. A south of the river alignment would accomodate current traffic "needs" as well as future needs. Same old short-term, segmented, piecemeal thinking that has led to streets like 19th and 23rd. Maybe it is time for Bob to move on.

cowboy 12 years ago

Merrill , last time I looked there were no psunamis on 31 st street , the trappers seem to have left and the only fish/wildlife that are caught are you catching salamanders late at night . This is a damned up piece of farm ground.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Inland wetlands are most common on floodplains along rivers and streams (riparian wetlands), in isolated depressions surrounded by dry land (for example, playas, basins, and "potholes"), along the margins of lakes and ponds, and in other low-lying areas where the groundwater intercepts the soil surface or where precipitation sufficiently saturates the soil (vernal pools and bogs). Inland wetlands include marshes and wet meadows dominated by herbaceous plants, swamps dominated by shrubs, and wooded swamps dominated by trees.

Certain types of inland wetlands are common to particular regions of the country: bogs and fens of the northeastern and north-central states and Alaska wet meadows or wet prairies in the Midwest inland saline and alkaline marshes and riparian wetlands of the arid and semiarid west prairie potholes of Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas alpine meadows of the west playa lakes of the southwest and Great Plains bottomland hardwood swamps of the south pocosins and Carolina Bays of the southeast coastal states tundra wetlands of Alaska.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

Swamps are not more important than people.

This is yet another attempt to stall the building of this bypass. Those city "fathers" who oppose this route undoubtedly would never even have cause to use it, even if they closed it off for bicycle races. What they fear most is the dreaded development that would take place along the route. AND....

it does not benefit downtown (one of the REAL reasons for opposition).

Further, when you people send letters to government entities and purport to speak for the "community", you need to cut that out.

It should seem fairly obvious that many of us in the community do not agree with your views and do not want you to represent us in that light.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

When more than one option exists for building a roadway why not remain open enough to accept that. A SOR route is acceptable to proponents of a wetlands route for a second roadway so why not build one that meets the needs of today and in the future instead of blowing tax dollars on two expensive roadways?

Why not request a toll road in order that those who do not need a bypass do not have to pay for it?

While I do suggest options that would seem most prudent in dollars and sense frankly living without additional roadways for me is a no brainer.

It should not be long from now that county commissioners will want more of OUR tax dollars to begin making major improvements to county roads over and above a bypass to accomodate all of the new and future residents. It seems to me that improvements of county roads including some that lead directly into JOCO could relieve much traffic congestion. I contend the resistence to this concept is to drive the need for a bypass. Yes new expensive county road improvements will be knocking on our tax dollar doors way too soon.

Godot 12 years ago

The letter should make it clear that not all the commissioners agree with the viewpoint of the PLC. It should state that three support the southern route and two do not, because that is the truth. Otherwise, the PLC should send their letter, and Amyx and Hack should send theirs, with not one letter coming, officially, from the city commission.

Stand up to this, Mike and Sue. You don't have to sign that letter!!!! These clowns are forcing you to join them in their attempt to undo years and years of work and thousands of dollars of expense to support an idea that the engineers have said is not the best choice. Don't let Merrill and his group push you into this.

Ward 12 years ago

No man can build a wetland. Land may be set aside for a wetland environment, but there is no promise of its continued success. A success would arrive long after we've turned to compost.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

quote from merrill/heckler:

"While I do suggest options that would seem most prudent in dollars and sense (GET THIS) frankly living without additional roadways for me is a no brainer."

...and this guy is on our Traffic Safety Advisory Committee!!! Yikes!!

Kelly Powell 12 years ago

Once again, how about putting it up to a public vote? Or is it to much to ask for some local level democracy?

Richard Heckler 12 years ago


The Traffic Safety Commission does not make decisions regarding new highways.

It's okay that some people can learn to live with what's put before them. No one cares for traffic congestion during morning and late afternoon rush hours but it's only for a short period. It happens in Kansas City 5 days a week at about the same time that it's taking place here. Many drive from this rush hour to the KC rush hour and that will not change. There is no doubt in my mind that no matter where it's built drivers will use it.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

As far as voting on it I don't believe the SLT or wetlands route people want it to go before the voters. Because taking it SOR would remove a very huge obstacle and residents know this.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

The insistence on a route through the Haskell Wetlands is almost completely ego- and spite-driven. The petty personal comments against the PLC commissioners, environmentalists and Haskell demonstrate that it has absolutely nothing to do with what is the "best route."

The best route is south of the river, because that route and that route alone has the potential for community consensus, and opposition to it represents nothing more than vindictive immaturity and even raw racism.

Jay_Z 12 years ago

Just build the damn road--32nd street alignment or SOR to satisfy the swamp lovers--just build it.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

There it is...the racism card that you types love to throw up whenever anyone is opposed to your sooo elitist, superior views of how things need to happen, because that is what you want and believe, therefore it must be right and justified.

Of course, with the bunch of you, nothing can ever be taken at face value because there is always an underlying agenda. Can you say "no confidence"? Once it has been shown that motives cannot be trusted, the whole pie then becomes rotten.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

So you maybe you aren't racist, monkeyhawk-- just petty and immature.

orchid 12 years ago

It's too bad that important posts always resort to name-calling: Communists, Three Stooges, and clowns? Have an intelligent debate, and have a little respect for the oppositions opinion. God forbid we save a little land for something other than concrete.

Jay_Z 12 years ago

Wetlands--a new race of humans? Never heard of those people before.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Kline, I'd like to thank you for calculating the costs of the south of the river route and informing all of Lawrence of this information so that you could conduct your poll and report on the results. It's just that sort of hard data we need to make an informed decision.

outsider 12 years ago

Observations from an outsider...please read completely

I have lived around this area for the last 6 years and have kept close watch on this subject and now would like to share some observations...

32 or SOR....I'm not sure that this is truley the issue. If it goes 32 the "tree huggers" get more "dammed up farmground" that will mean more acres of treasured wetlands. Also, there would be a nice wetland center built. If it goes SOR then the only people to be disappointed are the commuters that get to drive an extra 2 (or so) miles each trip around the city, which will only save them an average of 15 minutes of commute vs. a 17 minute savings on 32 alignment.

Is the real issue weather the bypass should be built? I believe that the vast majority of residents believe "YES" Unfortunately your bickering has slowed this project down to a standstill and now...this letter that could be sent by the city commissioners(because they want to be popular with special interest groups) could stall any future progress by another 10 years...


I am suspicious that the city leaders may be trying to stall this project for some reason...because that is what this letter may end up doing.



lunacydetector 12 years ago

our Commissioners stalling growth?

do they want their earth nazi friends to get their portion of that proposed back door $20,000,000 tax increase for their taxpayer subsidized land? will they then cave on the 32nd Street alignment? stall until they get their money?

do the bankers want that $20,000,000 so they can invest it for the county?

i refer to ECO2.

the PLC commission will not win again, so no need to fret.

erichaar 12 years ago

BUILD IT! And let's dump Boog, Schauner and Rundle while we're at it.

Mike Ford 12 years ago

nakni nahollo ut anumpulili nanta? ish ikhana? (white men talking about what?, do you know?, for the immigrant English speakers) None of the name-callers have probably read the EIS or SEIS to see how pro- business and non-objective it is. They don't realize that the process was done disingenuously just to get the requirements followed. Had the laws actually been followed, there wouldn't be any chance of a 32nd route. The 32nd proponents are pro-business and inherently racist in their policies as their ancestors were in the 1850's. The Three Thinkers are doing the right thing and setting a good example. Like other examples of Kansas intelligence, this is non-existent.

Godot 12 years ago

Clowns make people laugh, they play against reality, they try to make us believe the rules of physics don't exist, they play to the crowd, they are a distraction from what is going on behind the scenes. That is not name calling, that is telling it like it is.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

You've got a talent for being simultaneously vacuous and petty, Pilgrim.

Richie Kennedy 12 years ago

tuschkahouma wrote

None of the name-callers have probably read the EIS or SEIS to see how pro-business and non-objective it is. They don't realize that the process was done disingenuously just to get the requirements followed. Had the laws actually been followed, there wouldn't be any chance of a 32nd route. The 32nd proponents are pro-business and inherently racist in their policies as their ancestors were in the 1850's.

I have a copy of the 2003 EIS on hand, and have read it, so I believe that I am among the 32nd Street supporters that is qualified to respond.

Clearly, the 42nd Street alignment is superior to the 32nd street alignment in terms of direct impact to the wetlands. However, it is not the sole factor in determining an alternative. The 2003 EIS argues that long-term indirect impacts under 42nd Street is greater then it would be for 32nd Street with the proposed mitigation.

If you are to allege that the thesis behind the selection of 32nd Street is concocted, feel free to litigate to the fact. I think you'll find that proving a rigged EIS process to be especially difficult.

Your allegationg that everyone is favor of 32nd Strret is racist is pure ad hominem and will be disregarded.

Having said that, the fact that development south of the river is more likely may be enough of a changed circumstance to warrant a supplement.

Scott Drummond 12 years ago

I say don't build anything. Look at the mess the decades of growth and expansion have caused. Leave 6th Street & 23rd Street as the main commercial drags east and west and if you don't like the delay or the hassle of using them, then GTF out of town. This would have the added benefit of stopping once and for all the influx of Johnson Countians in to our fine city.

And for the idiot that wrote, "Swamps are not more important than people" I hope and pray that one day the veil of ignorance is lifted from your eyes.

paladin 12 years ago

What possible difference, at this point, does it make where they put the highway? Look around. Its an exercise in futility. The Earth is doomed.

ralphe 12 years ago

The wetlands are manmade, NOT natural. Shut up and build the road already!

Godot 12 years ago

Put it to a vote, then see who the whiners are.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

A vote isn't necessary. While a slim majority wants a trafficway built somewhere, only a small percentage of that majority is adamant that it be crammed down Haskell's throat.

Of the thousands of people who would be content with no trafficway at all, the majority of them would gladly concede to a south of the river route if it meant that for the first time in the history of Haskell, their wishes were respected by the rest of the community.

So if this thing is to be built, KDOT and the Corps of Engineers need to get the message that Lawrence has the makings of a consensus on this issue, and they need to suck up their egos and change their plans.

cowboy 12 years ago

Any actual facts to back up your assertion of majority. I dont have the answer but surely would like to know. Seems to me a loose coalition of minority opinion has tanked this road ever getting built anywhere. Haskell community at best 2% of population and much lower percentage who are actually residents or voters. PLC backers who werer thumped in last commission election ands will be thumped again in next election. So what are the real facts ? I don't think you or I can say.

If it goes south of the river I will damn up my pastures and have immediate sacred wetlands so it aint going there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

As soon as 15th St. is made a 4-lane through-street from far east lawrence to the trafficway on the west side, I'll support a trafficway crammed down Haskell's throat. That'd do way more to relieve traffic congestion in Lawrence than any SLT route, anway.

paladin 12 years ago

There may be some obstacles impeding that plan. See map.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Are suggesting that a few obstacles should be allowed to stand in the way of progress?

cowboy 12 years ago

this road will never be built , lawrence traffic will get worse for the next ten years , the city instead of having kdot pay for the mass movement of traffic will have the burden of maintaining streets to handle all of the east west traffic that should be on a state highway. Thanks Haskell !

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Boy, it's only Monday, and Haskell has already ruined your life, cowboy. It must really suck to be you.

cowboy 12 years ago

Reality sets in , but at least Im not Bozo , Haskell is going broke and theres a new election for the commission in our future , there is still hope.

cowboy 12 years ago

Reality sets in , but at least Im not Bozo Rundle , Haskell is going broke and theres a new election for the commission in our future , there is still hope.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

There's new elections for Congress, too. Maybe you can get some new congressmen elected who'll vote for sending smallpox-infected blankets to the Injuns again.

cybermaiden 12 years ago

What does Haskell's Federal Funding woes have to do with you or your SLT?

cybermaiden 12 years ago

Cowboy: Do you really think your fight is with Haskell? How Ridiculous! Are you that desperate to give your "enemy" a name? Anyone who opposes the SLT must be an Indian? Who attends Haskell? You make me laugh you silly little man.

cowboy 12 years ago

I give up we will have no road at all , but historians , who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuuits ? Haskell students , pro bono lawyers for the Haskell students. To deny that they are or have not been used as the major legal opponenets is somewhat delusional.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

It's curious that you are trying to gain some sort of sympathy points because you don't get your two minutes of convenience at Haskell's expense.

Why does your purely selfish motive gain you moral high ground, while Indians trying to retain the last vestiges of a continent that was once theirs makes them moral degenerates who hang out with the likes of pro-bono lawyers?

cybermaiden 12 years ago

Your agruement is not with Haskell but with 32nd Street SLT opponents including citizens from all walks of life in Lawrence, beyond Lawrence, all races. To blame Haskell and Indians for your lack of an SLT is pretty droll. I agree it would be easier to point fingers at a group of individuals who are a small minority in this community but isn't that cowardly. If it were only Indians who opposed a 31st or 32nd street alignment don't you think you would have your SLT by now? For what ever reasons there are others who do not approve of the 31st and 32nd street alignments. It's not just those pesky Indians.

kcwarpony 12 years ago

I think cowboy might have land south of the river, either his home or his livelihood may be at risk if the SLT goes south. If this is the case then I find his reactions to be understandable. I think the whole situation stinks and I'm tired of all the fighting but Haskell can't back down. There is too much at stake. Our culture and spirituality is everything to us and we have lost too much already. Sorry cowboy.

cowboy 12 years ago

cheers KC , not my living but possibly my land . take care

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