Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2007

SLT gets push

Implications of partnership with feds unclear

September 11, 2007


State, local law enforcement working to curb alcohol violations

State and local law enforcement officials teamed up in an effort to curb alcohol violations in Lawrence bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Enlarge video

The federal government is signing on as a partner in the effort to complete the South Lawrence Trafficway - but what that involvement means is still unclear.

Douglas County commissioners on Monday approved adding the Federal Highway Administration as partner to a four-year-old agreement to mitigate the impact of the SLT's completion. But nobody from the agency was at Monday's meeting, and agency officials were said to be unavailable for comment until Wednesday.

That left commissioners and observers unsure of the agency's intentions.

"I think logically that means they're going to support the 32nd Street alignment," said Commissioner Bob Johnson, who voted in favor of the partnership. "But I don't think that I could say that."

FHWA conducted hearings in late 2006 to determine whether the long-debated trafficway should be completed north - along a controversial 32nd Street alignment through the Baker Wetlands - or south of the Wakarusa River along Lawrence's southern city limits. The study was intended to determine the environmental and historical impacts of each route.

The agency's final report was originally expected in July; officials said in late August it might be released as late as October.

Monday's request from FHWA, however, raised questions about whether the agency was officially endorsing the 32nd Street alignment. The 2003 compact - which was originally signed by several entities, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baker University, the Kansas State Historical Preservation officer and the Kansas Department of Transportation - outlines a mitigation plan to offset damage to the wetlands. One paragraph in the amendment states that FHWA intends to adopt the Corps of Engineers' existing SLT environmental impact statement, which endorses the 32nd Street route.

FHWA needed to sign the agreement because federal funds are involved with the project that were not available at the time of the original agreement. In 2005, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., secured $1.5 million to start the project in a federal transportation bill approved by Congress.

Johnson was joined by Commissioner Jere McElhaney in voting for approval, but Commissioner Charles Jones voted against it. Jones opposed the original agreement in 2003. Jones has said he opposes the 32nd Street route in the SLT proposal.

Bev Worster, a rural Lawrence opponent of the 32nd Street route, asked commissioners to delay adding the agency to the agreement because FHWA has not informed the public of its decision.

"Now, out of the blue, they're going to indicate that (decision) by getting their name on the agreement that the Corps actually negotiated," Worster said in a letter to commissioners.

In a letter to the county, Worster also said the county had not adequately informed the public of its plans to discuss the agreement. The commission's agenda was made public Friday, but the SLT item contained no reference to the trafficway - instead saying the commission would discuss a "letter from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting signature on first amendment to Memorandum of Agreement."

"Because this issue is highly controversial, I feel that it behooves us all to 'go the extra mile' to ensure complete transparency so that the public feels that all the agencies have sincerely worked for a fair and open process," Worster wrote in her letter, which was echoed by several speakers at Monday's meeting.

Commissioners asked County Administrator Craig Weinaug to put more detailed information on the county's Web site concerning key issues to be discussed at the meetings.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Isn't this precious. Another chance for the racist lardbutts to weigh in.

pace 8 years ago

but our comissioners signed without discussion or much notice. I am disappointed in the boys. Thanks Charles. He has a bit of honor.

50YearResident 8 years ago

It is time to build this road now! If you need to justify it in your own mind, just drive down 23rd St between 4 to 6 PM. Watch out for the 16 wheelers or you might get run over.

lunacydetector 8 years ago

build the road. it's good for the environment - it saves gasoline.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"Merely supporting the building of the SLT does not make one a racist."

Yes, it does. If you value pavement over honoring the paltry commitments made to Indians as pitiful recompense for the genocide inflicted them in the theft of their lands, then you are a racist.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"This assertion is particularly pathetic since the SLT has absolutely nothing to do with race."

Your pitiful state of denial is almost as pitiful as your racism.

unelectable 8 years ago

It's all part of Manifest-Destiny. The SLT will help us to reach from Sea to Shining Sea! (only faster and with not a much traffic) What could be more American than that? ahhh, sure takes me back.

yankeelady 8 years ago

Lets not forget it has already had a public vote and passed. Then it was blocked by the folks who wanted the vote to begin with, but didn't like the outcome. It is way overdue.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago


A CONCLUSION by a commissioner

The Kansas City District of the US Army Corps of Engineers deserve praise for the thoroughness, thoughtfulness and fairness it has brought to bear on the SLT Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Indeed, KCD is exactly right in its assessment of this situation:

"The District has concluded that on balance, the benefits and detriments associated with the two preferred alternatives are similar, and that no single alternative appears to best represent the overall public interest in this matter." (Summary Section 0.1)"

The two alignments are at nearly balanced in terms of serving the public interest. I hope that KCD will give additional weight to the following concerns and find in favor of the 42nd Street Alternative:

¢ The 42nd Street Alignment is consistent with local land use plans and is well timed to support development south of the Wakarusa.

¢ The 42nd Street Alignment will remove traffic from more surface street segments than would the 32nd Street Alignment. Most notably, the 42nd Street Alignment would remove 11,700 more VPD from crowded South Iowa Street when compared to the 32nd Street Alignment.

¢ KDOT and the Douglas County Commission's refusal to admit the possibility of any other but a 32nd Street Alignment raises questions about "good faith" and the reliability of data prepared by KDOT's consultant.

¢ Wetland mitigation projects have a dubious success rate.

¢ The 32nd Street Alignment would cut between Haskell Indian Nations University and the Baker Wetlands, damaging a both potential historic district and HINU's cultural, academic and spiritual ties to the wetlands.

Agreeing to a route that substantially reduces the number of bridges would be a huge pay off to the taxpayer. Also diverting traffic with improved county roads off 59 Hwy, such as 1000 rd and 1100 rd that would carry traffic to JOCO and to 1057 K-10 interchange by way of E1900 rd would also provide a huge savings to taxpayers. Both 1000 rd and 1100 rd could hook up with the bridge to nowhere.

Where is the huge savings? The real estate industry owns property all along the way of the SLT. All county roads will need to be improved over and above the cost of any bypass to carry the load of additional residential development. So why not design the two major county roads to appropriately carry Douglas County traffic into JOCO and to K-10 then back? County tax dollars will be required to fund all of these projects. How many roadways does anyone want to build?

As gasoline prices escalate how many thousands of commuters will Lawrence lose as locating closer to employment becomes more realistic? KCMO/JOCO is culturally rich as well. KCMO/JOCO experienced more than 4% in job grow according to the LJW.

justthefacts 8 years ago

Ah the fight over this road. Some issues never die.

So, who in fact owns the land being now considered?

Previously the fight was between the Haskel folks (fighting for all Native Americans - and claiming bodies were buried there) and environmentalists (protecting wet lands). [Never mind that some 600 test holes later and highly scientific imagining of the location reveals no burials and the wet land creatures in question (a) aren't rare and (b) migrated to this spot when OTHER roads went in around the area thus creating the wet land]. Sounds like the same old factions are again claiming that the road proponents are picking on them and letting others get the benefit. So, if it doesn't go here, where? Shall we put the last part of this wrap around road in Baldwin or Ottawa?

Regardless of the location for the last leg of this project, or whatever is being proposed, the persons who own the land in question or who live/work near it will fight against it. There is no way to get 100% approval on this or any project.

It's the usual problem: even on public (or private) projects that everyone wants to see happen, no one wants something new and big built in their own backyard.

If this had been built decades ago it would have cost about 1/4 what it will now.

Jean1183 8 years ago

"Regardless of the location for the last leg of this project, or whatever is being proposed, the persons who own the land in question or who live/work near it will fight against it."

Justthefacts---I live near the proposed route and I'm all for it! It may effect me in a negative way but I'm a realist. The SLT is badly needed.

Again, I say.....BUILD IT.

SloMo 8 years ago

Remember, we voted for a bypass, not a trafficway! It should divert KC and Topeka traffic around Lawrence, and not be like a second 23rd street, with too many access points and development all along it. As soon as they got people to approve a bypass they started calling it a trafficway and proposing all sorts of changes to it.

lounger 8 years ago

Leave the wetlands alone and grow up you bunch of selfish-suv driving-lazy bones!

doc1 8 years ago

Lounger. The fact is it would save gas to build it, relieve traffic congestion on 23rd Street and lower the accident rates and the injuries that go along with those accidents. Build it. Hell I'll grab a shovel and start digging through the wetlands myself.

Tychoman 8 years ago

The wetlands are man-made anyway, aren't they? Build the trafficway and relocate the wetlands. Or build the trafficway around the Wetlands. I don't care. Just build the fracking trafficway.

Mike Ford 8 years ago

it's nice to see that all of the ill-informed people ares still making dumb comments, (Yeah, I'm Native!). I'm listening to the same brilliance that was spoken by ill-informed people in 1998. The same people who probably don't know what an EIS is or a SEIS is. The same people who vote for people who don't know anything about the Constitution or the stolen land they're living on or the rental monies paid to tribes for plenary theft that ill-informed immigrants think is welfare money. Keep talking and remind how dumb this country is.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

In 1971 the State Highway Commission recommended a bypass for Lawrence not a trafficway to be built south of the Wakarusa river. The bypass is far more practical for future highway demands. Douglas County does need a bypass not a trafficway.

  • A south of 42nd route say 1000 rd to E1900/1057 is the most common sense route for future growth. This route takes one directly into JOCO or easily connects to K-10 at an existing 1057/E1900 K-10 interchange. Traffic needs to go out around a city not through a city.

This would also avoid developers coming up with another roadway request such as Louie McElhaney has done. He says there needs to be two when one logically built real bypass would suffice for many years ahead. The wetlands route was not a good idea in the first place not only because of ecological and native american spiritual reasons but for reasons of long term growth.

Studies show that a route further south will improve congestion on 23rd as well as Louisiana to a far greater degree than any other plan.

pace 8 years ago

? "but what that involvement means is still unclear...

so pil either they just signed any document sent them in the hopes it would further the show or the two comissioners knew what the document involved and didn't want it public. sorry, the cigar smoke got me choking , it seems to be pouring out of the back room door.

Emily Hadley 8 years ago

bozo, why would my mayor be weighing in on the SLT? Is it being rerouted through Tongie?

ralphralph 8 years ago

I'm not a racist, but I am a recovering lardbutt. I am also tired of people being slaughtered on the highways south of Lawrence. This crap has been dragging out for as long as I can remember ... early 70s .... It's time to build a new, modern US59, connect it to a new, modern SLT, and move on. No disrespect to the Native Americans, but dammittall, this has got to be finished and soon. People are being killed and maimed needlessly each day, week, year, decade, we delay it. Build it now.

Noweigh 8 years ago

hopefully common sense will finally prevail over all the decades of scare tactics and 11th hour whining and stalling by the "stop everything"" crowd. Build the thing and it will be used, alot....just like the section between the turnpike and Iowa Street is now.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years ago

It is time, no, way past time to build the road. There have been far too many delays to try to satisfy the "needs" of splinter groups opposed to the road. The community needs this road. But there are still a few lunatic fanatics who fancy themselves as some sort of saviours of the frogs and knats and mosquitos. The Haskell "wetlands" is the biggest fraud of this whole debate. It is a damned swamp. It is in violation of city ordnances about nuisances, like a breeding ground for mosquitos and other pests that harass people who live in the city near the swamp. It IS manmade and was not a natural feature of the area.

As for racism and Native American issues, the very presence of Haskell Institute/Junior College/Native American University in the community speaks volumes to the issue of correction of past wrongs against the Native Americans of the 19th century. My grandmother was Cherokee. I know the stories.

Finally, no one alive today is reponsible for these wrongs. No one today is responsible to correct these wrongs. But charitable poeple and well-meaning citizens try to do so, but there are considerations to all citizens that must be made. Build the road. No one will die, be forced from their homes, or have to look at another Wal-Mart.

Mike Ford 8 years ago

This project has been pushed forth ignoring provisions of the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1978, the National Environmental Policy Act, The Clean Water Act, and the sections of the National Historic Preservation Register involving the protection of traditional cultural properties and sacred sites. I have witnessed reviewing officials of the information submitted by trafficway opponents leaned on by politicos from above, whether they are local, regional, or national, to ignore the obvious and keep the misinformed public on their side. The obvious observation is that the 573 acre area that Baker University acquired by skirting the Federal Indian School Surplus Lands Act of 1962 means alot to the members of the 572 federally- recognized Nations, tribes, bands, communities and rancherias in this country. I saw the comments these indigenous communities made in their opposition to this road project. From a procedural standpoint, going forward with this project along 32nd street is as illegal now as it was ten years ago. If the proponents of this road thought they could bulldoze it through, they wouldn't have any fear of a lawsuit. They do fear a lawsuit, because the reasons for the lawsuit are legitimate in their nature. Oh, and by the way, we are not fringe groups, we are people opposed to irresponsible senseless distruction of a natural area being labelled all kinds of nonsense by uninformed people.

Scott Drummond 8 years ago

Free us from the KTA & there is no need for this ill-concieved monstrosity. We have a great bypass just north of the river - we should be free to use use it.

There are too many here that have never seen a road construction project they couldn't support. Unrestrained cancerous growth ad nauseum is not healthy. Count me among the sane who'd like to keep the size of Lawrence manageable. Don't like the traffic on 23rd? Then, go back to Johnson County where they have major freeways running north, south, east and west, and the traffic flows ohhh so smoothly. Build roads and the hoards of idiots and morons invade. What we need is a few years of negative growth in our fine town.

Noweigh 8 years ago

Cool........."with a flat population?"......this should have been built 20 years ago to accommodate a growing population, now it's simply trying to catch up after decades of stall tactics ranging from Agnes The Frog to religious & cultural exploitation. Interesting the Haskell issues didn't surface until quite late in the game. Our "flat" population will not be flat forever. We can either face the fact that this area is going to continue to grow or ignore it the way so many have wanted to do on issues like this.

JohnBrown 8 years ago

To all those wondering how old the Haskell-Baker wetlands are: 600 million years old. Sure, for a very short while in the late 1800's-early 1900's they were drained and farmed, but that project proved unsuitable and they were returned to their previous state.

The wetlands were created by the same glacier that brought all those red rocks down from the north (callled 'erratics'). The glacier stopped about from Manhattan to St. louis and as it melted it changed the course of the Kansas River (which was a North-South river at that time) to an East-West river. The wetlands are 600 million years old.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"Aren't these particular wetlands manmade? If so, then they are not natural."

They are restored wetlands, with some areas that were never disturbed. But that's irrelevant. It's land that should never have been taken from Haskell, requiring the abuse of the laws governing such transferences, and should be returned to its rightful owners.

Mike Ford 8 years ago

The Haskell Wetlands were sold as surplus property by a non-Indian paternalistic treaty disregarding federal government in the early 1950's. Treaty abrogation started with the Lone Wolf Kiowa case in 1903. Plenary power means that if the wrong people get in office, they can use the plenary power vested in the U.S. Constitution and assigned to the U.S. Congress to push their state's rights policies upon federally-recognized indigenous peoples in spite of the federal responsibility to the contrary for stealing the land for pennies on the dollar in the first place.

State's Rights people ( a term used by racist southerners when I lived there) don't stop with budget efficiency issues in trying to make the government more efficient. They impose their views in spite of empirical and educated precedent and punish those people who they don't agree with, culturally and religously. This has happened since the Pilgrims bullied the Wampanoag and other eastern peoples into the King Phillip War of 1676-79. Might makes right in their warped logic.

If glaciers create drainage paths later known as the Kansas and Wakarusa river valleys and the land on the river floods regularly until it's manipulated by man, it's still floodplains. Some developer built my grandparent's home on land drained from wetlands 40 years ago in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Two years ago, that land resumed it's wetlands character when Katrina swept my grandparent's home away. I love when posters take the O'Reilly bully tone with nothing to back it up.

ralphralph 8 years ago

<<>> The deaths are from outdated roads that should have been replaced and supplemented long ago ... 59 is, and long has been a death trap. The anti-growth, anti-highway culture of some in Lawrence has contributed to that situation, both directly and indirectly. SLT not being built is part of the overall problem, and indirectly affects all the rest of it. The battle to prevent growth in and around Lawrence has been long, and it has been lost. The population of Douglas County has nearly tripled during my lifetime, and acting like that hasn't happened won't work anymore. There must be upgrades to the entire transporation design, and SLT is part of that big picture.

Mike Ford 8 years ago

It is political correctness when empirical evidence is reviewed and a judgement is rendered Mr. Harley? I love how all of these FOX watchers assume that when legal cases that don't go their way it must be because of an activist judge. It sure couldn't be about the facts of a case. Oh, that's right, many of these people fathfully watch Nancy Grace and want justice before a case is even heard. Forget the facts, they just get in the way of manifest stupidity, Oops I mean destiny.

Fact one: Title 25, Chapter 7, Section 293a, of U.S. Code Law; sections emphasized to prove my point: no more than 50 acres of surplus land can be ceded at any one time to an eligible PUBLIC school district (Baker University is private). If such land is not maintained to the standards set forth in the law mentioned above, then the lands in question will be returned to their rightful owner, the federal government and Haskell Indian Nations University. The 1,103 acres that originally comprised Haskell campus was purchased with tribal monies established by the Civilization Act of March 3, 1819, enacted by the U.S. Congress. Tribal lands were ceded by tribes in return for many things, including the education of Indian children. The monies collected form the sales of tribal lands were set in interest-bearing accounts to pay for tribal education and supplies. Baker University acquired 572.68 acres at once, more than 11 times the amount perscribed in the law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1962. Mr. Boyd brings up the acquiring of the lands through the Health, Education, and Welfare Department (HEW) in the 1960's. The real reason it was done this way was to avoid the rules for land transfer set forth in the land acquisition bill mentioned above. Too bad most posters don't do any research. They talk alot without saying much of substance.

damnocracy 8 years ago

Not that anyone ever mentions it, but honestly, we need the trafficway now (it was approved via votes by actually Lawrence citizens almost a generation ago--before all the transferred tree-huggers moved here and the politically correct disease took over the world)...but we also need to plan to build a bypass south of Lawrence.

I actually would prefer a route farther to the south, just because I think eventually there will be growth between Baldwin and Lawrence...but that is so far off in the future that we really need to build another, safer East-West route now. Building a road too far south now will not deter enough folks from using 23rd St (or funneling folks from 27th & 31st St).

I'm sick of seeing KU students rear-end people on Clinton Parkway or 23rd St. (I've seen 3 this week ), and having to dodge jaywalkers crossing 23rd to go to their slums behind Dillons, Pizza Shuttle, and Hobby Lobby.

By the way, I grew up in the neighborhood next to the wetlands and ran through the fields full of corn and soybeans etc in the 1970s and early 1980s. Hell, we used to illegally shoot off fireworks all year there. Never once did I see a single tree-hugger or Native American or bird watcher (or deputy--whew). I rarely even saw a farmer. I'm talking years of hanging out at what is now the wetlands. We even used to go past there as students of South Junior High and Broken Arrow on walks and jogs to the Wakarusa River.

Yes, I understand it was a wetlands, and then wasn't, and then was. but never was anything mentioned about this being a pristine place until it was manufactured again as a wetlands...around the same time Lawrence citizens voted to pave a highway through it.

Funny though. At the time, the only thing the opponents of the trafficway cared about saving when it came to the wetlands back then was Agnes T. Frog. If you don't know who Agnes T. Frog is, keep your mouth shut about the trafficway. You're just a Lawrence passerby enjoying your role as a vocal minority.

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