A long-term study of regional transportation needs is under way, Kansas Department of Transportation officials said Friday.
The study, which will cost $1 million in its initial phase, covers Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties.
"Many significant developments are changing travel patterns within this five-county area, making a study of this size and scope important," said Thomas Dow, KDOT state transportation planner.
The study has three goals: to assess the different kinds of transportation needs, prioritize them and then develop strategies to pay for them.
Study partners include the counties and cities in the area, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metro Planning Commission, KDOT, Kansas Turnpike Authority and Mid-America Regional Council.
The first phase of the study will be conducted by the consulting engineering firm of Parsons Brinkerhoff and is expected to be done by the end of 2009. It will entail examining the state and local road systems and traffic projections.
In the second phase of the study, partners will address priority projects and how to pay for them. No funds have yet been identified for Phase 2 or to build any of the recommended improvements, officials said.
Dow said transportation in the five-county area has been affected by major developments, such as the Kansas Speedway and adjacent entertainment and retail district. Future projects, such as redevelopment of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant near DeSoto and the proposed intermodal train and warehouse hub in Gardner, will have more impact, he said.
"Collectively, those things are going to potentially alter traveling," he said.
He said Johnson County officials have talked about the need for a highway link from Gardner north to Interstate 70 and Missouri, but he added, "at this point that is just discussion of one potential thing that could be done in the future."
He said the purpose of the study is assessing what the needs are, not just developing a wish list of projects. He said officials will host public meetings and plan a telephone survey soon, but no dates have been picked yet.