Archive for Monday, February 12, 2007

Turnpike interchange opponents voice road rage

February 12, 2007


One Leavenworth County resident is ready for "civil war" to stop a proposed highway interchange at the intersection of Leavenworth County Road 1 and the Kansas Turnpike.

It may take civil war and a lot more, though, to get in the way of the $13 million project to improve County Road 1 from U.S. Highway 24/40 to Kansas Highway 32 to support the increased traffic load. The outrage felt by some residents of southern Leavenworth County drew about 80 people to the county fairgrounds in Tonganoxie on Sunday afternoon to rally opposition to the project.

The opposition meeting comes just three days after the Leavenworth County Commission approved a resolution, 2-1, reaffirming its support for the project, at an expense of at least $8 million. Tonganoxie is expected to provide $1 million, and the Kansas Turnpike Authority has promised $2 million. The source of the remaining $1.96 million has not yet been identified, but Leavenworth County Commissioners hope to secure some federal money for the project.

Residents at the Sunday meeting contend, however, that the true price of the project will end up being much higher than the $12.96 million estimated by engineers. They say the county will end up footing the bill for any overruns, plus whatever is not provided by the federal government, if anything at all is provided. The money from the county and Tonganoxie would come from a voter-approved 1-cent sales tax that runs through 2016.

Two types of opponents

The opponents to the plan generally fall into two camps: Those who view the construction of the interchange as a waste of money and those who view the interchange as a fundamental change in the culture of Leavenworth County. Julie Downes falls more in the first category, while Jan Bernhardt and Maryam Hjersted fall decidedly in the second.

Bernhardt stands to lose a portion of her 320 acres to the project if it is approved.

"My concern is the access road to the toll booth will go right by my house," Bernhardt said. "Even beyond that, all the development that will follow this interchange is scary. We have a right to have a voice in this process, and we haven't had a voice."

Bernhardt said she's upset the project hasn't been handled in a more forthright manner.

Downes, who owns property along County Road 1 south of the turnpike, said it's her belief that voters didn't know what they were approving when they passed the sales tax. At least one person who attended the meeting said he'd voted for the increase but wouldn't have if he'd known about the project.

Opponents of Tonganoxie Highway Interchange Project 'ready for war'

Special interests and back door politics - that's how some in Tonganoxie say a highway interchange project on County Road One has moved forward. Today those who oppose the plans met for a town hall meeting to talk about their strategy. Enlarge video

Hjersted, who said she'd fight a civil war to stop the project and the possibility of development that would follow, is insistent that this project destroys the community that has been created in Leavenworth County.

"It's like the difference between living on Walden Pond and living near a strip mall," she said. "Development impacts not only the environment, but the community as well."

Hjersted said her land has several acres of forests and native prairie grasses that she doesn't want to see spoiled by an interchange that she says the county doesn't need.

Access issues

Leavenworth County officials argue that the proposal has been in the works since the 1990s and will provide better access to the county. This, in turn, they say, will allow for growth and development.

Lawrence attorney Price Banks was also on hand to offer advice to all those who were at the gathering Sunday. He said it's still possible for upset residents to change or force cancellation of the project.

"Their most favored action is going to be political, at this point," Banks said. "I think the good news here is they don't know where the funding is coming from."

A member of the audience asked Banks whether a lawsuit could be filed. Banks, while saying that a lawsuit certainly could be filed, stressed that the governments were most likely acting within their legal rights.

Banks also said the project would have a direct effect on Lawrence and Douglas County. He relayed a conversation he'd had with Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke in which he indicated a road north and east of Lawrence would be built to connect with the proposed interchange at Turnpike milepost 212, eight miles east of the East Lawrence interchange.

Price Banks, a Lawrence land-use attorney, talks Sunday at a Tonganoxie meeting in which area residents gathered to to discuss the proposed turnpike interchange on County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie.  Also pictured are Kerry Holton, left, and Jan Bernhardt, Tonganoxie-area residents who have expressed opposition to the turnpike interchange.

Price Banks, a Lawrence land-use attorney, talks Sunday at a Tonganoxie meeting in which area residents gathered to to discuss the proposed turnpike interchange on County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie. Also pictured are Kerry Holton, left, and Jan Bernhardt, Tonganoxie-area residents who have expressed opposition to the turnpike interchange.

Lawrence City Commissioners previously have expressed reservations about the interchange being located so far east of Lawrence. They want an interchange to be built closer to town to help provide a bypass around town. As it stands right now, County Road 1 south of K-32 becomes Douglas County Road 1061 at the county line - the Kansas River. County Road 1061 winds through Eudora and connects to Kansas Highway 10. There have been discussions, but no action, on improving the road from K-32 to K-10.

Eudora city council members and Douglas County Commissioners previously have passed resolutions supporting the proposal on its current alignment, although Eudora officials would prefer a long-term proposal that includes a new route around Eudora.


classclown 11 years, 4 months ago

Well if it's to be war, at least they're being civil about it.

oldgoof 11 years, 4 months ago

ahhhh.... nothing like highway construction to throw a little napalm into the morning air.

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 4 months ago

the interchange is just stupid anyway. I live in Tonganoxie and think its stupid to pay to drive on a road when I can use hwy 24 or cut across county rd 1 to get to Lawrence. As for going to KC, I would use 24 to K-7 or 435 so really why do we need it? There are faster, cheaper ways of getting around besides paying the tolls on the turnpike. Besides the interchange is a few miles out of town which really isn't that convenient. I feel sorry for the people who live out there, you know the gov't won't give them near what their property is worth.

Kaw Pickinton 11 years, 4 months ago

I for one like The Turnpike, it's the best local show on television.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

Look everyone, in the very near future, without toll roads there will be no universities. While Im not sure about the location of this toll road, it has to go somewhere. Who wants to see the universities go broke from a lack of toll road funds??? NOt me.

pipedream 11 years, 4 months ago

This issue is much larger than it appears if you want to know the real story Google the NAFTA Super Highway. So far the government has managed to keep it quiet slowly using eminent domain to take land from US citizens and open the borders to Mexico and Canada. I received confirmation from Nancy Boyda's office claiming it is the real deal.

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 4 months ago

C C - I get the point. But you know its such a far drive to hop on the turnpike in Lawrence or KC. From Eudora its easier to cut across to Baldwin, take 56 to 59 to Ottawa and hop on I-35. There are ways to get around besides turnpikes. Which by the way is great show!!

Bud- tell me you're joking! Right?

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

The way I see it, if the toll roads are helping to assist the universities, then we should all be prepared for many more roads to be toll roads.

Bobo Fleming 11 years, 4 months ago

Dont you all know that in the end Johnson countys going to get the road. They have the political ducks lined up while we here in Douglas County dont. Or in the words of one Douglas county commissioner when told about the Eudora route," I dont see how this does anything for Lawrence."

jjmelon 11 years, 4 months ago

So will LV county or Tonganoxie get any of the proceeds from the new tollbooth?

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

nothing for lawrence, everything for the university. Imagine how much easier it will be to get to a home game at arrowhead everyone

davisnin 11 years, 4 months ago

"Leavenworth County officials argue that the proposal has been in the works since the 1990s and will provide better access to the county. This, in turn, they say, will allow for growth and development."

As hard as it may be to understand for some, not everyone has been fully brainwashed by the pro-growth agenda. In fact, it is very likely that people move out to undeveloped areas to ESCAPE rampant growth. Odd I know. I mean I myself would only move to Tonganoxie to convert farmland into a tightly packed development of tan-hued chipboard homes with 1000 units and 3 floor-plans. That makes the most sense to me.

BTW It takes 5-7 minutes to get from the intersection of County 1 and K32 (where a decision from Eudora would be made) to the East Lawrence entrance. The proposed interchange would be about 1.5 minutes closer (and in the wrong direction). Going East? K32 is free and 65.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

Just a look at the old addage, time is money. If people are concerned about time, they are willing to pay money. If time is not a problem, they dont want to spend money

John Young 11 years, 4 months ago

The stated idea for this is to spur economic development. No real cost/benefit study has been done to confirm that there will be a decent return to Leav. Co. on the money spent. Undoubtedly there will be residential growth along the new road, but does Leav. Co. have the wherewithall to intellegently manage growth in the rural areas? The current Co. Commission seems to have taken some regressive directions in rural planning. The new Planner has the skills, but where is his backing? Does one of the Commissioners have a vested interest in seeing more sprawling rural residential construction? As for the benefits to Tonganoxie, will another two-lane higway connection to the turnpike that is 7 minutes closer than the East Lawrence exchange really spur commercial/industrial or even residential growth? Think Leavenworth County doesn't have needs elsewhere for $8 mil. in road funds? Take a drive around.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

So, what if we made in town streets toll roads??

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

I still say, turn the SLT into a toll road and watch how fast this road gets completed. Imagine how fast we could build new buildings at KU if we only finished the SLT.

And then add the tolls from the road we are reading about, and you have a brand new parking lot and offices for the football stadiums.

Oh, almost forgot, if you move the KSTATE KU football games to Arrowhead, you would increase the toll income and game payout income to about 5 MILLION per game

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