Letters to the Editor

No logic on SLT

October 29, 2007

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To the editor:

In regard to their recently revised position on the proposed South Lawrence Trafficway, I am profoundly disappointed in our city commissioners. Instead of acting with foresight and respect for the diversity of our community and our ecosystem, the commission, with the exception of Boog Highberger, has bowed to ill-advised pressures.

Our leaders have dismissed important new planning realities, including the city's new wastewater treatment system, the pending intermodal facility in Gardner, and the regional distribution complex that is emerging in Ottawa. These key developments, all south of the river, were never brought up in the Corps of Engineers' Environmental Impact Statement on the SLT, and are being largely ignored by the county and the Federal Highway Administration.

Indeed, the city has grown, and with it, traffic patterns and problems have expanded. But as currently proposed, the SLT's 32nd Street alignment defies logic. This road is slated to be built far too close to the city's center. It might have made sense 20 years ago, but it sure doesn't make sense now.

Further, for many people in this community, the wetlands are sacred ground. It is also a place where schoolchildren by the score have their first encounter with environmental education. Naturalists and fitness buffs alike benefit from the proximity and open space provided by this local treasure. The wetlands are a selling point for our town! And they are being sacrificed, in part, due to lack of vision and planning.

What a shame.

Laura Routh,

Lawrence

Comments

monkeyhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

"Everytime you see a realators sign, this will be a reminder too you voters that elected these pawn commissioners and a defunked Bapist preacher."

Nobody needs to read beyond this first sentence to understand the author has no understanding of reality....

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

Of course, had it built 20 years ago, it would already be totally obsolete, and we'd be talking about the South of South Lawrence Trafficway Trafficway, or SOSLTT.

Eric Beightel 10 years, 5 months ago

The author complains that the SLT as currently recommended will destroy the wetlands and cheat many local children of the opportunity to explore nature...which is patently untrue. The mitigation package put forth by KDOT will enhance the wetlands, increase the acreage of wetlands and will develop an actual education center where hands on experience will broaden the visitor's horizons.

Is this the greatest alignment? Perhaps not, but something must be done and the environmental costs are neglibile when compared to everything else.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

blue: True nuff. Of course, just putting a frickin light at Louisiana would be an infinite improvement.

S0uPnAzi 10 years, 5 months ago

That is correct, ebbenji, most people just don't understand that the plan is to INCREASE the wetlands with the 31st street proposal. I also agree with the other opinions expressed to build the darn thing already, and that it should have been built twenty years ago. 31st street may not be the optimal solution, but it's the best one so far, and with the additional of several hundred of acres to the wetlands with that proposal, it's the best one, hands down. Let's do it!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

The "mitigation" argument is silly, as is the "Haskell isn't losing anything" argument. It's analogous to my hitting you in the mouth and than telling you that the pain you complain about isn't real, and that the new dentures I'll buy you will be just as good as your old teeth.

Eric Beightel 10 years, 5 months ago

I understand that it may not be the kindest, gentlest way of moving forward but Haskell does not have any ownership rights to the wetlands and the interests of Haskell cannot be deemed to be any more deserving than those of any other group.

You analogy would be slightly more accurate if I punched you and broke your wooden dentures and replaced them with state of the art chompers. Both wetland areas are man-made and there is no evidence to suggest that the designed mitigation wetlands will not be just as good, if not better, than the existing areas.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"but Haskell does not have any ownership rights to the wetlands"

A more accurate description is that they were stripped of ownership rights.

"Both wetland areas are man-made"

Ad nauseous repetition of a falsehood doesn't make it true. These are restored wetlands, not man-made wetlands. And the proposed mitigation will happen outside the Haskell Wetlands.

Give Haskell their land back and go south of the river, which will serve exactly the same purpose as going through the wetlands.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

One letter to the editor said it best, "we're only talking about shaving 5 minutes off the drive time".

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 5 months ago

One letter to the editor said it best, "we're only talking about shaving 5 minutes off the drive time".

Right...Maybe at 4am.

nekansan 10 years, 5 months ago

"Of course, had it built 20 years ago, it would already be totally obsolete, and we'd be talking about the South of South Lawrence Trafficway Trafficway, or SOSLTT."

And the same bunch of anti progress yahoos would be complaining about impacting the expanded wetlands south of the 20 year old SLT that were built when the roadway was completed. If the wetlands were restored from non existence and are now so ecologically viable then you would think people would be all for building the SLT and increasing the wetlands habitat that has shown it can be restored successfully. Instead they fight any progress and as a result the wetlands remain smaller than they could be. So what's really important, preserving and increasing wildlife habitat or stopping road construction at any cost?

gccs14r 10 years, 5 months ago

Take out 31st between Haskell and Louisiana and you don't have a traffic problem at Haskell or Louisiana.

raeLynn 10 years, 5 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:

"The "mitigation" argument is silly, as is the "Haskell isn't losing anything" argument. It's analogous to my hitting you in the mouth and than telling you that the pain you complain about isn't real, and that the new dentures I'll buy you will be just as good as your old teeth."

I could not have put it better myself! This is so true and such a great analogy!

ralphralph 10 years, 5 months ago

You just cannot 'de-funk' a Baptist preacher. The funk goes all the way through them.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

Time yourself while stuck in "heavy" Lawrence traffic sometime. Compare that to going directly to your destination, stopping at the usual lights, etc. What seems like an eternity isn't that big of a deal as far as lost time.

pomegranate 10 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Spywell, The word you were trying to communicate is NOT realator--it is realtor, and is pronounced real tor. There is no letter A between L and T. That is just such lazy and juvenile speech. Like someone calling chicken pox the chicken pops!!

50YearResident 10 years, 5 months ago

The biggest benefit of the South Traffic way will be removing almost all Semi's (18 wheelers) that now have to use 23rd st. to get through town in both directions. If you don't think this will alleviate a lot of traffic problems then you need to go to 23rd from 4 to 6 PM and do a vehicle count. As for taking someones property for the needed road, it happens all the time. I am not hearing huge complaints and law suits from the land acquisition for the new 59 Hy south to Ottawa. Why? Maybe those people don't think they are being cheated because of their race!

Mike Ford 10 years, 5 months ago

Where do all of these Non-Native people get off calling people liars for telling the truth? Fact: Haskell Indian Nations University's campus included 1,103 acres of land, including the wetlands in question. Land purchases throughout the period between 1887 and 1905 were made with tribal funds designated as such by the Department of Treasury and the Department of Interior, including the wetlands area. Fact: The Merriam Report in 1929 pointed out all of the horrors of the boarding schools and more Native kids were sent to public schools with Johnson O' Malley funds set aside by their tribes and the U.S. Government. Tribal congressional appropriations were cut during the Depression and the BIA transferred the farming program to the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma. After World War II, the Surplus Lands Act of 1949 was enacted. Tribes were supposed to get first dibs on surplus government lands. Public Laws 47 and 87 followed this law. E. Raymond Hall and Baker worked to get the wetlands after the federal government surplused the wetlands out without consulting Haskell, which was how a White Majority-ran Bureau of Indian Affairs operated in that day. KU couldn't afford the wetlands area, so Baker acquired the drained wetlands area that the BIA had ordered drained some sixty years prior. The Federal Indian School Surplus Lands Act of 1962 was the mechanism for this land being surplused. However, the Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Department was used to facilitate a way around the rules put forth in Title 25, Chapter 7, Section 293a for Baker to acquire the lands. I've seen the E. Raymond Hall papers, some of my family, now deceased, worked with some of the people mentioned in Mr. Hall's papers in and around Baldwin City 50 years ago.

Fact: if an area had to be drained to become semi-usable farmland when it's not flooding, as the Wakarusa River did prior to the building of Clinton Lake, then it's wetlands. I grew up in the Calcasieu and Ouachita River estuaries in Louisiana on the edge of vast wetlands and Cypress area in the 1970's. That's what the wetlands remind me of. THESE ARE NOT MAN-MADE WETLANDS. They are restored wetlands. Just like any area of the Everglades would be if it was reverted back to wetlands from sugarcane field usage.

Fact: Nothing on this post will change anything, so why come with the racist (Deny all you want) postings? I've been racially harrassed before, and that's what most of this stuff sounds like. Being loud and politically incorrect is more important that learning something. That's what it sounds like.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years, 5 months ago

Swamp Rock?? Wow, finally someone on this forum sees the swamp for what it really is! A lot of people have moaned and groaned about the "precious wetlands", the "viable wetlands" yada, yada, yada......... It IS and HAS BEEN for MANY years a public nuisance. Standing water nuisances are FORBIDDEN by city ordnance. If this were back of your house, you would be attacked by the city nuisance gestapo, sending you warnings, threatening fines and jail time. How does this public nusiance escape city ordnances??? No one has ever explained how a clear and present violation of public law can even exist without someone being notified, warned, and fined. How does this mosquito breeding ground even manage to exist under existing city ordnances?????

retina 10 years, 5 months ago

Thanks tuschkahouma, for setting the record straight. It won't do any good, but I'm glad you took the time to state the facts.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

tuschkahouma......that said, we can all shutup and go home.....knee out....

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

tuschkahouma is an angry racist who has been shown to be a liar. Disregard anything he says.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"Then you should shut the hell up bozo. Biggest liar and idiot on this forum. Good lord, stop lying, you ignorant, foolish liar."

I bet you feel good when you smack your kid, too.

Terry Jacobsen 10 years, 5 months ago

Ok... Defender... Although I disagree with bozo most of the time... I thought the purpose here was for everyone to have a chance to say what they think or believe... No name calling! Shame shame shame!

Bozo, I don't happen to agree with you. What happened to the supposed Indian Burial Grounds? I didn't see anything about that in toushkahoma's post. So is it true or not true?

usesomesense 10 years, 5 months ago

I think that it is really important here to understand that currently we really don't have a huge traffic congestion problem. Granted it's not good and improving traffic flow on 31st street (even with traffic control devices like stop lights) would improve traffic flow. The real point is how traffic will move over the next 30 years or so - planning for the inevitable growth in population. It's not about shaving of 5 minutes a day now, it's about the 30 minutes or more a day it will shave off in 10 years when if we still haven't done anything.
Furthermore, if we aren't accessible surrounding communities will go elsewhere to do their shopping instead of getting stuck in Lawrence. I know that many people would be fine keeping the out-of-towner's away, but that's like cutting off our nose to spite our face. The 31st/32nd street alignments are outdated and highly rejectable - trying to cling to this alignment will only increase delays and expenses. We need to give up the silly notion that the trafficway will provide immediate relief to our community. Improvements to 31st street will do more for that with far less argument from anyone.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

" What happened to the supposed Indian Burial Grounds? I didn't see anything about that in toushkahoma's post. So is it true or not true?"

The tribes and families of those who are purportedly bured there certainly believe it. Those who want the wetlands paved over want it bad enough to call them liars.

Are you confident enough in your knowledge of what is or is not in the wetlands to call them liars, and potentially pave over those graves if you are wrong?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

There's a difference between a plausible belief, such as that of these tribes and families, and an implausible belief, created out of whole cloth simply because you have no valid argument to propose.

50YearResident 10 years, 5 months ago

bozo posts: " What happened to the supposed Indian Burial Grounds? I didn't see anything about that in toushkahoma's post. So is it true or not true?"

The tribes and families of those who are purportedly buried there certainly believe it. Those who want the wetlands paved over want it bad enough to call them liars.

Are you confident enough in your knowledge of what is or is not in the wetlands to call them liars, and potentially pave over those graves if you are wrong?

Name one family or one Tribe that can say one of their loved ones (name the loved one) are definitely buried there....

Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

When a decision is made to run a speedway through Prairie Park neighborhood on 31st this is probably a practical design from Haskell east to interchange 1057 in the interest of economics and the neighborhood pedestrians who will be crossing from time to time. I say leave the wetland stretch as it is .

*There are a number of potential benefits relating to a three-lane roadway section including:
- Improved Vehicle Safety - Improved Pedestrian Safety - Traffic Calming - Improved Emergency Response Time - Potential Bike Accommodation - Relatively inexpensive

*Improved Vehicle Safety This potential benefit is self explanatory. There is an elimination of drivers changing lanes to pass slower vehicles. Speeds are limited by the speed of the lead vehicle. This will reduce the number of side-swipes. Also reduced are the number of rear-end crashes, as vehicles are now using the left-turn lane. Studies have shown a reduction in the total number of crashes ranging from 17 to 62 percent

The severity of the crashes has also decreased.

*Improved Pedestrian Safety
Pedestrian may benefit because they have fewer lanes of traffic to cross and because motor vehicles are likely to be moving more slowly. Currently there may not be room for placement of sidewalks within the vicinity of the roadway; by reducing the number of lanes, right of ways may have room to provide pedestrian facilities.

*The three-lane configuration allows pedestrians to focus on one-lane of traffic at a time and medians or left-turn lanes can provide a refuge for pedestrians if needed.

*While the left-turn lanes are active lanes, they would have lower traffic volumes and slower speeds.

  • Three-lane roadways create a more comfortable environment for pedestrians with less noise due to slower and more consistent traffic speeds.

Traffic Calming * Studies show that narrow roadways decrease the speed motorists feel comfortable traveling. In fact, studies found a dramatic reduction of excessive speeding (five miles per hour or faster).

*Another result of the three-lane configuration is lower speed variability which creates a more predictable and consistent travel environment.

  • Improved Emergency Response Time
    Emergency vehicles may use the left-turn lane as a means to travel unimpeded along a busy roadway.

*Potential Bike Accommodation and Streetscape The reduction in roadway cross section may provide additional room for use as a bike lane.

*In addition, the change could create opportunities for visual enhancements and streetscape improvements.

West_Sider 10 years, 5 months ago

PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ....Eneough already with the whining, studies, injunctions and lawsuits. Just build the damn thing so that those of us who are forced to work jobs in O.P. or Mo. to support our families can reduce our commute times by 20-30 minutes each day. The other option would be to let companies bring jobs into our town so that the majority of us don't have to commute via K10 or I70 everyday. But that I know is a sore point (noise, air, eye pollution, etc..) to many of you. Which is worse, inviting new employers to town (think the West side Walmart) or the SLT?

gr 10 years, 5 months ago

"Of course, had it built 20 years ago, it would already be totally obsolete, and we'd be talking about the South of South Lawrence Trafficway Trafficway"

Ever think we may need TWO roads? An interior one and an outer one like most large cities have? We need to build the first one first. And the second needs to be further south. Leave the riparian areas alone. There are plenty of protected wetlands so we don't need to protect a "has-been" wetland, if it even was.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

I repost this from a post on larryville.com, which drew from savethewetlands website--

http://savethewetlands.org/faq.php

Haven't archaeologists already determined that there are no Indian graves in the Haskell-Baker Wetland?

Haskell alumni have stated unequivocally that there are former students buried in the wetlands. The issue is far more complicated than proponents of the trafficway have led the public to believe. The highly controversial ground penetrating radar (GPR) study done for KDOT proved absolutely nothing. It was another very expensive PR gimmick.

The study that you may have read about in the paper is very misleading. The unique ground penetrating RADAR (GPR) equipment that consultant Larry Conyers uses is a device that few experts in this remote sensing sub-field would give the time of day. GPR technology is not a good match in wet soils, where problems with distortion and false data readings are well documented. Conyers did not fly over the wetland to image the entire area as so many presume when they hear "ground penetrating radar". Actually, two of his grad students dragged a cable across an undisclosed small sampling of the surface. KDOT refused to reveal just where the consultants went for their late winter wetland transects, but because much of the 32nd Street route is submerged, it is doubtful that these young assistants trekked through half-frozen gumbo with their cumbersome equipment.

One could write a long dissertation on all the reasons why this is the biggest charade KDOT attorney Mike Rees pulled in his entire tenure as the SLT front man. There was no documentation of the process or particulars included in the Corps final EIS. Further, Conyers never claimed, as KDOT did for the accommodating local press, that the study had concluded that no graves are present in the entire wetland. He merely reported that there were none found in his brief limited sampling. For this he went back to Colorado with a fat check from KDOT.

There were two ways this very controversial consultant could have easily demonstrated that his equipment is really reliable in the areas where he dragged the cable. First, there are at least 50 documented graves of Douglas County paupers who were laid to rest on the south bank of the Wakarusa, just west of the Haskell Avenue Bridge. There are no surface traces of these graves, but there is an excellent paper trail. We are certain these poor-farm residents were buried on this site.

continued...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

... continued

Secondly, there are burials in the Haskell Cemetery (both inside and outside the modern fenced area) reported in late 19th century newspapers and from first and second hand accounts, that are not marked there today. Larry Conyers declined to "calibrate" his controversial device in either of these nearby places. Part of the reason the graves just south of the river are no longer visible, by the way, is that the local farmers allowed their livestock, both pigs and cattle, to root up, trample and scatter many of the bones. This was in living memory, not ancient history. These were, after all, just a lot of "worthless" paupers, mixed bloods of various hues, many people of color whose graves were looked upon as being in the way of efficient farm operations.

When highway proponents claim that if there were "really" Indian graves in the wetlands local farmers who leased the land would have reported plowing up remains, keep in mind that these were some of the very same folks who set their pigs upon the pauper's graves. If you believe for a minute that such people gave a damn about a few bones of dead Indians you probably were not around when Kansans had a major roadside attraction of Native American skeletons down the highway from Lawrence. There are, without any doubt, Native American burials in this wetland. No one familiar with the history and circumstances of the place could possibly conclude otherwise, unless the pay for such intellectual blindness was damned good.

On the other hand, graves are only one aspect of what causes so many Native Americans to consider the wetlands truly sacred. This is not to say protection of graves is not important, but it is obvious that proponents of paving the wetlands would love to have this issue rest entirely on whether remains are "found" along the path of construction. The entire historic Haskell campus is a place crucial to preserving history that some in this town are anxious to forget. It is apparent some would prefer to bury that history under as much asphalt as they can haul into the wetland.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

I beleive the last two sentences describe Bowhunter and blueharley quite aptly:

"The entire historic Haskell campus is a place crucial to preserving history that some in this town are anxious to forget. It is apparent some would prefer to bury that history under as much asphalt as they can haul into the wetland."

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

One of the most annoying things is when people like bozo declare what he thinks our intentions are, and not only do we have to discuss the issue on the merits, but we have to defend ourselves against his attacks on our phantom motivations as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"Now, can you cite an objective source?"

With respect the whether or not there are Indian graves in the wetlands, there are objective sources, although those who wish to pave them over like to pretend that there are.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

Let me try that again--

With respect to whether or not there are Indian graves in the wetlands, there are no objective sources, although those who wish to pave them over like to pretend that there are.

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says:

With respect to whether or not there are Indian graves in the wetlands, there are no objective sources...


Good point, and since the default position is one of skepticism, then we should not believe the claims that there are graves there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"So you are saying that there is absolutely no evidence that there are sacred burial grounds in the wetlands. "

I said no such thing. There are many tribes and families who believe that they have relatives buried there, and if you know anything about Haskell's history (you clearly would prefer to remain ignorant of it) there is plenty of reason to believe them.

As the article above reports, KDOT made a rather pitiful attempt to disprove their existence, which all the pavement fans are quick to latch on to, but you'll latch on to anything that gains you 5 minutes of convenience and/or screws the Indians (not necessarily in that order of priority.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"Good point, and since the default position is one of skepticism, then we should not believe the claims that there are graves there."

If you have no respect for Haskell or the people for whom it was established, then that is the default position. For me, the default position is to give them the benefit of doubt.

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

No bozo, that is always the default position. You seem to have a problem with ignorance, in that you are ignorant of your own ignorance. The default position of a logical thinker is not to give someone the benefit of the doubt. That's called willful ignorance, where you believe what you want to, even though there's no reason to do so.

You'd be a good story writer bozo, you live in imagination land.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"No bozo, that is always the default position."

Well, excuuuse me!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

"Since they won't/can't do that, their claim has absolutely no basis in reality."

How convenient for your 5 minutes of convenience.

Terry Jacobsen 10 years, 5 months ago

Ok One more post on this and then I'l quit. Why do the "pro" wetlands people keep talking about saving the wetlands, when in fact the current plan would take a strip along the north side of the wetlands that amounts to 30 acres and give back 300 acres on the west side of the wetlands for expansion and education. Shouldn't those bumper stickers that say "save the wetlands" actually say, "build the slt, grow the wetlands"??? Which leaves me to wonder whether these folks are "for" the wetlands or just "against" something else.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

If you want to grow the wetlands, there is absolutely no reason to link it with destroying the wetlands. It's just basic logic and common sense.

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