Letters to the Editor

SLT mitigation

April 28, 2009


To the editor:

A recent letter (Public Forum, April 24) claims that South Lawrence Trafficway proponents are using scare tactics to convince the uninformed public that if opponents are successful in their lawsuit against the SLT that the newly restored wetlands along Louisiana will be converted to apartments and big box stores.

It also claims the project will bring 8-10 lanes of traffic through the current Baker Wetlands and destroy the entire 573 acres of wetlands. Then the writer claims that KU can and should transfer its 20 acres at the southwest corner of 31st and Haskell Avenue to “Haskell” in order to kill the road. What is evident here is that the writer is desperate to convince somebody, anybody that KDOT and anyone supporting the SLT are evil!

What the opponents apparently fail to understand is that building the SLT south of the river will most likely do more damage than destroying 10 percent of the existing wetlands within the 32nd Street alignment. Building the SLT south will ultimately force local governments to spend local taxes to widen 31st Street, Haskell Avenue and Louisiana Street into four-lane roads, severely limiting access to their cherished wetlands and dramatically increasing noise and road kills on the perimeter of the wetlands. The mitigation package for the 32nd Street alignment will provide for expanded and improved wetlands, a new boardwalk, expanded trails, and tremendous educational opportunities for many generations to come. And yes, rest assured, the monarchs will still visit the existing wetlands after the SLT is completed on 32nd Street.

Leek is from Lawrence


Richard Heckler 9 years ago

First of all it is known that a trafficway will offer little relief to 23rd. Why spend $200-$300 million tax dollars for a road that will not cure 23rd street traffic congestion? People have lived without this obsolete plan for about 30 years going on 35.

There is no guarantee that man made wetlands actually work as such and will require years and years before that is known.

Why should taxpayers spend bundles of money for new flood control since wetlands do it naturally and require little to zero maintenance. Wetlands - Wetlands Protect Us All Protection from flooding - Habitat for fish and wildlife - Recreational opportunities http://www.sierraclub.org/wetlands/factsheets/protect.asp

31st street will be widened because developers want it done in order to build more homes that do not pay for themselves which is the same reason why the ill conceived trafficway concept surfaced.

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

The better idea is to divert traffic to the I-70 toll road which will be supported by a I-70/K-10 connector which is under construction as we speak I believe. This creates a real honest to goodness bypass. This will save local taxpayers bundles of money. An I-70 bypass toll road makes more sense and less tax dollars for local taxpayers.

Yes the trafficway would require a local tax increase last I heard. This should not be a secret. So will the 31st expansion which is why three lanes should be considered instead of four.

County road 1000 and 1100 road will need to be improved with or without a trafficway. Let's spend our money on improving existing resources. I believe 1000 rd is a direct route to JOCO and JOCO is going to improve their portion of that road. Why not make more use of existing resources?

Truckers can catch I-35 by way of Ottawa,Topeka,Olathe and JOCO by way of I-70 and I-435

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

I can see that Jennifer has been reading the KDOT and Chamber of Commerce press releases.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

"Truckers can catch I-35 by way of Ottawa,Topeka,Olathe and JOCO by way of I-70 and I-435"

Great idea merrill- instead of a by-pass in Lawrence, they can just by-pass the whole town..... you are something else, man

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

If their destination isn't Lawrence, bypassing the whole area is a great idea, xbusguy.

Sharon Aikins 9 years ago

I'm sure everyone on the south side or approaching Lawrence from that direction will be thrilled to use I-70. Ah, the sweet smell of exhaust in the morning, afternoon and evening. We are still in Kansas but it is changing and growing. We haven't found this little Utopia where we can just close our eyes and everything remains perfect (????) and unchanged for those who resent growth of any kind. No, I don't go to the wetlands but I would gladly drive over it for a short distance to save time and fuel. So kick me! I just love it how some use their own personal gripes and agendas to come up with ideas proposed here. And in fact, the taxpayers of Lawrence did vote to build this road oh those many years ago. It could have been built and operating for a long time now for less than it has cost in litigation. Now, if it is built, the price tag is going to reflect today's pricing. My final thought is, where is the so-called connector of I-70/K10? Is it anywhere in the vicinity of Lawrence? But, hey, I can pay a lot more for groceries and other things I purchase because the cost of shipping them is increased by longer delivery times, ergo more trucking fees. At least I won't be paying anything extra in taxes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"No, I don't go to the wetlands but I would gladly drive over it for a short distance to save time and fuel."

That's really the only pertinent point in your whole post, redmoonrising. It's all about you.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

If their destination isn't Lawrence, bypassing the whole area is a great idea, xbusguy.

hey bozo- Do you really think someone driving a semi will drive into Lawrence, if they don't have to? Lawrence is not that special.

50YearResident 9 years ago

Disproving the facts:

1 Why should taxpayers spend bundles of money for new flood control since wetlands do it naturally and require little to zero maintenance.

Not this wetlands, the water has to be channeled off the wetlands directly in to the Walkie with deep ditches. Then when the Walkie overflows it floods back into the wetlands and surrounding fields.

2 Recreational opportunities. What? There are absolutely no recreational opportunities unless you want to catch mosquitoes.

3 Fish, you have to be kidding about that, right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

So which came first, 50yearresident, your desire for the SLT, or your ignorance on the three topics in your above post?

Scott Drummond 9 years ago

"Building the SLT south will ultimately force local governments to spend local taxes to widen 31st Street, Haskell Avenue and Louisiana Street into four-lane roads,"


akuna 9 years ago

The funny thing is that the rest of the world and nation is talking about mass transit and literally curbing the single car driver. And, yet, we here in Lawrence are still (STILL) talking about whether or not to destroy the wetlands in order to promote the single car driver.

It would be nice if we could change the conversation to "should Lawrence and Douglas County help build a light rail to KC to join their light rail", but KC is such a sprawling mess that is stuck on me, myself, and mine that it can't get over the hump to build their own mass transit infrastructure.

Don't build the SLT through the wetlands. Instead build an East Lawrence bypass that connects I70 and K10 and that has a spur to downtown Lawrence and 6th Street. That would help relieve traffic from 23rd, and route traffic more efficiently around and through Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago


Because it's easier to posit unsupportable hypotheticals than deal with the undeniable results of the destruction of wildlife habitat and property that should be returned to its rightful owner, Haskell, since Baker has shown that it'd rather sell out than use it for the educational purposes for which it was (illegitimately) granted ownership.

altarego 9 years ago

I guess I'm stupid. There are a couple of comments about an East Lawrence I70/K10 connector. I thought that is what the SLT is supposed to be - removing the Iowa to 23rd travel.

My level of ignorance on this topic precludes any strong opinion one way or the other, but yet I continue:

1) If the lands are sacred, then cede them to tribal control and leave the discussion of mitigation and/or development to the Native Americans. Period.

2) The wetlands in question have been manipulated and bastardized through the years. I know what wetlands look like. These ain't wetlands. This patch of ground has been ruined for any real useful purpose. It has been turned into junk land. The mitigation will represent an improvement.

3) I haven't been here long enough to embrace the SLT issue, but it seems to me that arguments on both sides are made because people have been making them for years. I mean, yeah, I like to hear myself talk too, but come on people now. Smile on your brother.

kmat 9 years ago

altarego - here's the info you need.

Yes, the SLT was supposed to be a bypass. 35 years ago. Since then, the city has sprawled and the only way to truely bypass the city is to build the road farther out of town. Many have wanted it to go through town, just so they can make a buck.

Those wetlands you speak of - you should visit them. It isn't junk land. The National Park Service designated them a National Natural Landmark and Natural and Scientific Area. There are over 200 species of birds, 35 species of amphibians, 13 species of fish, 22 species of mammals and 333 plant species. Take some time and walk the trails out there. I've personally seen deer, bobcats, every type of bird you can imagine, beavers, musk rat, fish, foxes. There is so much wildlife there and once you get away from 31st st, it's beautiful. You can't claim to know the wetlands if you haven't gotten out of your car and spent time in them.

The I-70/K-10 connection they are building will run by Eudora. Anyone on I-70 W can get off at Eudora and hit K-10 and enter the south side of Lawrence. Those driving K-10 that need to get to the western side of Lawrence or Topeka can get onto I-70 at Eudora and completely bypass Lawrence. That makes sense. The SLT doesn't.

And since this issue was voted on so long ago, wouldn't the sensible thing be to bring it to a vote again? The pro SLT people don't want that because it wouldn't pass today.

Scott Drummond 9 years ago

Nice points, KMAT.

One more thing, at this point, wouldn't it just be cheaper to buy out the KTA, eliminate the tollroad and an enourmously bloated organization, and have the traffic proceed along that, already existing roadbed?

altarego 9 years ago

Thanks, kmat.

I'm not claiming to know these wetlands, just making an observation through my car window - which is the reason for me being there now and in the future - SLT or not.

I'm assuming that there are no birds, amphibians, fish, mammals, or plants on the land designated for the connector being built.

I've developed the opinion that the reason for this road is obsolete, to the point that I don't quite understand the basis for the first leg. Most times I am on that road alone unless it's rotation time at YSI. So I agree with that part of your argument.

kmat 9 years ago

Once again, harley shows why the pro SLT crowd wants their road - because all they care about is a shorter drive to work. Guess what, the convenience of those that live in the southwest part of town isn't the only concern of the citizens of Lawrence and Kansas. I'm sorry you chose to live there and work in Olathe. I too commute each day, but bought a house that made my commute shorter. Your convenience isn't more important than everyone else in the area.

So may complain about the traffic on 23rd. You people wanted growth, you got growth. BUT, the traffic isn't that bad. I was just in Charlottesville, VA. They have half the population we do and main streets were just as bad as Lawrence at rush hour. Lawrence has a little congestion at rush hour. That should be expected at rush hour. I can drive from Shawnee to 15th & Kasold at rush hour and make it in 40-45 minutes (yes, going the speed limit). It usually takes me about 10-12 minutes down 23rd is all.

Alter says "I'm assuming that there are no birds, amphibians, fish, mammals, or plants on the land designated for the connector being built."

Of course any time that anything is being built, there will most likely be some animals that have to pick up and move. BUT, this connector road is going through farmland, not active wetlands. The amount of living creatures that will be moved is nothing compared to building a highway through the wetlands and the trash and polution that will ruin them.

altarego 9 years ago


You would think that with all the traffic, the East 23rd area would be thriving.

And I am sorry I don't sympathize with the commute issue. Here is where I agree with kmat 100% in two ways. First I also factored in my commute time before I moved to Lawrence, and located accordingly. Second, I don't care what anybody says, Lawrence traffic, at it's worst, is nothing compared to most towns. I know I have read otherwise here on LJW, but I'm not buying it. I've lived too many places with real traffic problems.

kmat, you see my point, though, I hope. The whole anti SLT but pro Eastern Bypass argument smells, to an outsider like myself, like a pile of NIMBY.

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