County wants city input on trafficway

A plan to seek a consultant to study major trafficway needs south of Lawrence was put on hold Wednesday night by the Douglas County Commission.

Commissioners want to include the city of Lawrence in that discussion. They hope the issue can be a topic at a joint city-county meeting in the future.

“I’m hard-pressed to go very far without the city of Lawrence involved,” Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said.

Last fall commissioners asked County Engineer Keith Browning to identify corridors south of Lawrence for constructing key arterial roads. He also was asked to prepare a request for proposals in seeking bids for a consultant to study possible corridors and what would be needed to improve them for increased traffic.

Commissioners said they think preparations need to be made for more traffic around the south and to the east of the city after the new U.S. Highway 59 is completed in 2012. They aren’t counting on the last leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway being completed that soon. The future of the SLT is dependent on funding and decisions by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

“The fate of the SLT is unknown at this point,” Commissioner Charles Jones said. “Our goal is to do something that provides an interim period of relief and also something that will be of future use.”

Commissioner Jere McElhaney expressed frustration that a “very small minority” had played a role in stalling the SLT. For years the SLT has been opposed by those who do not want it to encroach upon the Baker Wetlands and who favor a route south of the Wakarusa River before connecting to K-10.

The area just to the south of Lawrence is primed for growth and will one day be annexed into the city, commissioners said. Vehicle traffic, including big trucks, will be seeking quicker routes off of the new U.S. 59 that will take them east of Lawrence to Kansas Highway 10, they said.

Browning identified the following routes as possible key traffic arterials:

¢ Douglas County Road 458 from U.S. 59 to County Road 1057; County Road 1057 from County Road 458 to K-10.

¢ North 1100 Road from U.S. 59 to Noria Road (East 1750 Road); Noria Road from North 1100 Road to K-10.

¢ North 1100 Road from U.S. 59 to County Road 1057; County Road 1057 from North 1100 Road to K-10.

According to Browning, among the questions that a consultant would need to answer is how much traffic the arterial routes could carry, and what type of bridge structures would be needed. Other needed information includes requirements for right-of-way widths and how that will affect existing properties.

The cost of a study could be about $200,000, Browning said.