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Archive for Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roberts touts SLT as component of high-tech corridor for state

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in the front passenger seat, got a tour of the Baker Wetlands expansion project on Tuesday while calling for completion of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway. Others accompanying him included, from left, Baker University Board of Trustees member Bob Honse and Chairwoman Susanne Teel, along with Roger Boyd, Baker University’s director of natural areas, in the driver’s seat.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in the front passenger seat, got a tour of the Baker Wetlands expansion project on Tuesday while calling for completion of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway. Others accompanying him included, from left, Baker University Board of Trustees member Bob Honse and Chairwoman Susanne Teel, along with Roger Boyd, Baker University’s director of natural areas, in the driver’s seat.

May 27, 2009

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Project leaders pleased with mitigation, hopeful for SLT

A highway designed to loop around the southern edge of Lawrence is half complete. Now, officials at Baker University are pleased to be doing their part.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is renewing his push to finance completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway, and to get there he’s calling on some high-tech assistance from some high-profile projects.

Roberts, R-Kan., wants the federal government to pump $5 million into speeding development along what he calls the “Kansas High-Tech Corridor” between Johnson County to the east and Manhattan to the west.

The corridor’s “centers of excellence” — including Kansas University’s emerging cancer center and planned pharmacy building; the state Capitol and Washburn University in Topeka; and Kansas State University’s innovation campus in Overland Park, plus existing food-safety operations and the upcoming National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan — need just one more thing to get things moving, he said: A new stretch of four-lane, divided highway connecting Kansas Highway 10 at Noria Road with the eastern edge of the trafficway, now an unused bridge crossing Iowa Street at the southern edge of Lawrence.

“To get there from here it’s a big bottleneck, and it seems to me we should get rid of that bottleneck, without any danger to the environment, and I think it’s a possible thing,” Roberts said Tuesday, during a tour of new “man-made” wetlands being created in connection with the trafficway.

Roberts doesn’t expect to secure $144 million for highway construction and other costs right away, he said. But he does want to add to the $1.5 million that’s already financing Baker University’s expansion of the Baker Wetlands south of 31st Street, west of Louisiana Street.

“You do it one step at a time,” he said.

Roberts has submitted a request for $5 million to a subcommittee that will consider projects that could go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee by year’s end. The trafficway money would be used for further mitigation efforts, being financed with federal money funneled through the Kansas Department of Transportation and led by Roger Boyd, Baker’s director of natural areas.

Baker already is using $975,000 to create wetlands on 142 acres west of the existing Baker Wetlands, an area that would lose about 50 acres should the new stretch of trafficway be built along a so-called 32nd Street alignment as approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The route is being challenged in federal court by a coalition of environmentalists and others who consider the existing wetlands to have environmental, cultural and historical significance.

The court case could be settled within a year to 18 months, said Deb Miller, Kansas secretary of transportation, who joined Roberts for the tour of Boyd’s mitigation efforts.

Then comes the “next challenge,” she said: Finding money to build a four-lane highway that one day could be expanded to six lanes.

“This is not an inexpensive project,” Miller said.

Boyd, for his part, enjoyed showing off the mitigation work accomplished thus far. The new wetlands have 54 new swales, designed to hold water and foster dozens of species of plants, harbor a wide collection of wildlife and provide educational opportunities for an interested public.

Kansas University architecture students will design and transform a former grain silo into an observation tower. A new picnic pavilion is nearly complete, and construction of a new 1,000-foot-long boardwalk begins next month. A visitor center, parking lot and other features are expected in the future.

Boyd is confident Roberts can come up with the financing to keep things going.

“It’s very good timing,” Boyd said. “We’re ready to go to the next phase. We’re shovel-ready.”

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

BTW Senator Roberts our wetlands saves local taxpayers billions as natural flood control. This is a well known fact. Why should taxpayers spend more money building flood control when the one in place is working.

Why waste tax dollars subsidizing a 30 year old obsolete plan that does not carry traffic out around the city?

Sen Roberts - Lets make use of practical existing resources rather than waste tax dollars that could be used to subsidize K-10 connectors. This is logical

I-70 connectors east of Eudora were among the potential KDOT choices. This could be a toll road thereby users, to include 18 wheelers, help finance the project. This concept accomplishes many things.

It services: • Johnson and Douglas county traffic going to northwest Lawrence or Topeka. Or Topeka going to JOCO. • the Eudora Business Park east of 1057. • East Hills Business Park and the southeast Lawrence industrial park. • the Lawrence airport. And it: • diverts traffic around the city. • keeps the SLT out of the wetlands. • reduces congestion for morning and afternoon commuters. • might save Douglas County taxpayers millions of dollars. • Eliminates use of tax dollars. • Eliminates the need for an eastern bypass * Would not dump fast moving traffic off uncomfortably close to the congested city limits • allows KTA fees to pay for the highway and maintenance.

This is practical,logical and efficient use of tax dollars.

Respectfully, Merrill

justme2 5 years, 6 months ago

Roberts is a politician. Why would you think "practical,logical and efficient use of tax dollars" would make any sense to him?

Save the Wetlands!

John Kyle 5 years, 6 months ago

"Roberts has submitted a request for $5 million to a subcommittee that will consider projects that could go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee by year’s end"

Sounds like a pork barrell earmark to me.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Save The Wetlands and Save The Tax Dollars = dollars and green sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Boyd and Baker have become total whores for whatever government money they can get.

jumpin_catfish 5 years, 6 months ago

Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you....

scott3460 5 years, 6 months ago

How does connecting Topuka to the "high teck corridor" help anything?

But I like the clown car! Fitting, yes?

"Boyd, for his part, enjoyed showing off the mitigation work accomplished thus far. The new wetlands have 54 new swales, designed to hold water and foster dozens of species of plants, harbor a wide collection of wildlife and provide educational opportunities for an interested public."

Oh yes, I can certainly see the great work being done to recreate a wetlands. Let's see, so far the look and feel of a flooded golf course, or better yet, cheap housing "development" has been achieved.

Shovel ready? Indeed! The foolishness is getting pretty deep.

doc1 5 years, 6 months ago

Build the darn thing. The so called wetlands are 95% manmade as it is. It's time to start finding out where these coalition of environmentalists live.

madameX 5 years, 6 months ago

It would be nice if the LJ World would link to an official map of the proposed route, because I honestly don't know exactly what it is that's being proposed. As far as I can tell, though, the SLT seems like a big waste of money and wetlands. We don't need a new road to loop around the south end of town, we just need to make the road that's already there not suck so much. Replace the 4-ways stops on 31st street between Harper and Iowa with lights and fix the road itself (at least the part between Louisiana and Iowa) so it's not one giant pothole and at least some of the whatever congestion may exist would likely ease.

redmoonrising 5 years, 6 months ago

Aw shucks, I like trying to get through Lawrence... alive. Let's send 'em all up Iowa to I-70, then we can spend all our money on keeping it fixed up nice and purdy. And I just love the smell of exhaust sitting at stop light after stop light on 23rd. We don't need a good way to get around Lawrence, at least not one that's practical. I have to wonder if we create more pollution from cars moving unimpeded on even a six-lane road or with all of us backed up and sitting at stop lights on a four-lane street. If we made the SLT a corridor and not a big commercial development, we wouldn't see another 6th St., 23rd St., Iowa, Kasold, Wakarusa, et al. We might be able to get around our city and the rest could just, no pun, bypass us on I-70 to the north or the SLT on the south. I even wonder if we had built it 10 years ago if the whole footprint of our city might not be a lot different, and better.

50YearResident 5 years, 6 months ago

Wetlands for flood control? I call BS on that. When it floods all the water is routed into the walkie with the canal ditches on both the East and West sides of current wetlands. $5 Million will only get us 100 Yards of new road the way things are going.

Bruce Rist 5 years, 6 months ago

jumpin_catfish (Anonymous) says…

"Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you…."

Great, now I got that song stuck in my head!!!

araker 5 years, 6 months ago

I love the "traffic is horrible on 23rd Street!" argument. Have any of you people that think that ever been in, say, a city? Try driving on I-35 in Johnson County sometime, then you'll see what bad traffic is like.

scott3460 5 years, 6 months ago

"Finding money to build a four-lane highway that one day could be expanded to six lanes."

Interesting admission. Kind of puts the lie to this claim, doesn't it: "...of the existing Baker Wetlands, an area that would lose about 50 acres should the new stretch of trafficway be built along a so-called 32nd Street alignment."

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

1000 Rd goes from Iowa/59 to the 1057 K-10 interchange no problem.

I believe 1100 rd goes from Iowa/59 into JOCO

There are a lot of road projects on the table for local taxpayers yet we are not hearing HOW MUCH we are spending.

The LJW should do an article on how much all of the existing road projects in the city and county will cost the taxpayers. We NEED to know.

It is no secret the SLT will do little if anything to effect Lawrence traffic woes because of so many new bedrooms. This fact is according to a study has been known for at least the last ten years.

The number of bedrooms will only increase with any new roads in that area. How will traffic congestion ever go away?

"Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments. The community is way over extended in this regard.

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."

In essence not only will new roads add to our tax bills because they never pay for themselves so will does new residential for the same reason. Each new residential is a tax increase.

Do not be surprised if some local leaders demand a tax increase to fund the road. OR they may try to sneak it out of the pot of the latest sales tax vote which is why I did not vote for it.

Why not IMPACT FEES or EXCISE TAXES? Local real estate developers have had a great time laughing all of the way to the bank on the backs of taxpayers for the past 21 years. This is the root of the problem.

roger_o_thornhill 5 years, 6 months ago

I-70 is already big and it connects KC to Lawrence to Topeka to (almost) Manhattan. What's so __ing hard about connecting from JOCO to I-70? Always something new. Don't forget about Bobby-boy's secret (illegal) meetings that started this BS in the first place so he could tout easy access to KC from his precious Alvamar. SLT will relieve traffic on almost none of the city streets north of 23rd. And not much there either. I sure get this feeling that a certain few will make bank if this business goes through.

Sync the lights!!!

Thats_messed_up 5 years, 6 months ago

build build build!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Lawrence will never be considered a “green” city as long they refuse to build the SLT thereby strangling traffic for thousands and thousands of northeast Kansas commuters every day. The greenhouse emissions from 20,000 to 40,000 vehicles idling, starting and stopping, idling , starting and stopping 20 times over— twice a day just to get through Liberal Paradise Lawrence is many many times more than if those same vehicles cruised around Lawrence through open fields of mud and mosquitoes at 65mph without ever stopping once. Also the wear and tear of the large trucks on 23rd, haskell, 31st, iowa, etc. are the reason the roads all suck. Green city? What a joke!

dandelion 5 years, 6 months ago

araker (Anonymous) says… "I love the “traffic is horrible on 23rd Street!” argument. Have any of you people that think that ever been in, say, a city? Try driving on I-35 in Johnson County sometime, then you'll see what bad traffic is like."

So true. And they built a way to get around the town, 435. Have you driven it? I'd take 23rd street over that high speed mess any day.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

435 is a nightmare during rush hour as we speak even with new lanes. Yes it still comes to snails pace.

More roads bring more vehicles.

How can 23 rd be more than it is when 30,000 students hit town and hang in that area? When KU is on break driving is a piece of cake.

25 years later 18,000 commuters are still getting to work on time. If not they are over sleeping.

roger_o_thornhill 5 years, 6 months ago

BTW, I just saw the funniest typo vaguely related to my earlier rant. It was an address for a business on Bob Villains Parkway. Tee-hee!

remember_username 5 years, 6 months ago

The "Kansas High-Tech Corridor" is a real oxymoron. How can Kansas, which has such obvious disregard for higher education, claim to embrace knowledge more advanced than what was known in Naismith's day. Pat Roberts exhibits this thinking in his comment about the bottleneck caused by lack of the SLT. What exactly does Pat Roberts think needs to be moved east-west along this corridor? Somebody should tell Sen. Roberts that routine exchange of technology and knowledge is accomplished electronically in the more advanced parts of the world. The only real bottleneck here is our own legislatures fixation on low taxes and fear of intellectuals and their "new fangled gadgets".

Call the SLT for what it is. A convenience for commuters or a way to relieve traffic congestion caused by poorly planned growth. Go ahead and build it with the 150 million we don't have. But call it necessary to a "Kansas High-Tech Corridor"? That is true flatland absurdity!

feeble 5 years, 6 months ago

araker (Anonymous) says…

I love the “traffic is horrible on 23rd Street!” argument. Have any of you people that think that ever been in, say, a city? Try driving on I-35 in Johnson County sometime, then you'll see what bad traffic is like.

I drive it every day. 35 is a cakewalk compared to the horror show that is 29 at Pershing or Broadway.

Large parts of 23rd street pass residential areas or dense commercial areas. Drivers really don't need to be going 45 in those zones anyways.

Lacy Mohler 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe Roberts can ride around in a little golf cart and throw out all this crap because he knows there isn't a chance in hell he will get the money to fund it? It is a campaign gift. He can promise his district everythng they want and then blame Barry O when none of it happens.

I like the guy in the back of the cart---it looks like it is in danger of flipping over backwards.

scott3460 5 years, 6 months ago

Nice attire for the crew, too. Anyone wish to wager whether a single spec of mud graced Pat's oh so appropriate wingtips and DC power suit?

There are a lot of Kansans who'd appropriately question the intelligence of a person who dressed in a suit to go experience a Kansas wetland. What a tool!

number1jayhawker 5 years, 6 months ago

I'll have to agree with "that's messed up". The streets and the street light system in Lawrence is a joke.

deskboy04 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd sure like to see them build the trafficway.

gontek 5 years, 6 months ago

look at that carpetbagger on that golf cart.

Still as far as politicians go, there are many far worse than Roberts I suppose.

Build it.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 6 months ago

I think Thats_messed_up has the best argument so far. Sounds right to me.

DRsmith 5 years, 6 months ago

Build it...if for the only reason to see all the Lawrence Tree Huggers wet themselves. Who wants to go through the Iowa/23rd nightmare to get to another real city?

sfjayhawk 5 years, 6 months ago

High-tech corridor in Kansas? What is it called? Silicon Prairie?

drstrangelove 5 years, 6 months ago

The SLT and these other roads (such as "new 59") are incredible wastes of resources and represent infrastructure without a future. There simply isn't going to be the cheap oil necessary to make these things viable investments.

Those here in support of the SLT seem to be interested only in their ability to save five minutes on their commutes to Kansas City. If that was such a concern, why did you choose to live on the west side of town? Why should society provide you with a quicker way around the city?

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 6 months ago

"Richard Heckler babbled aimlessly...435 is a nightmare during rush hour as we speak even with new lanes. Yes it still comes to snails pace."

Really Richard? How would you know? I thought you were all about environmentalism, shopping local and bike riding. Now you tell us that you drive your pollutionmobile to JOHNSON COUNTY!! Hypocrite. It's bad enough you spew carbon into the environment through your lawnmowers.

Anyway, build it. Getting through Lawrence is a joke and using county roads is dangerous at best.

50YearResident 5 years, 6 months ago

For those of you that think the traffic on 23rd street is normal for a business district need to go there and sit where you can observe the traffic flow anywhere between Mass. St and Iowa for 1 hour between 8 AM and 6 PM. Just count the trucks with 10 or more wheels. You will be amased by the high numbers of big rigs (18 wheelers) that travel through this business district.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 6 months ago

The existing wetlands are man made! The existing wetlands are man made! The existing wetlands are man made! With the addition of more man made wetlands and the SLT, we all win! Build it and build it now!

dandelion 5 years, 6 months ago

DRsmith (Anonymous) says… Build it…if for the only reason to see all the Lawrence Tree Huggers wet themselves. Who wants to go through the Iowa/23rd nightmare to get to another real city?

It's called I70. You can go real fast and never have to see anything of Lawrence. It isn't that expensive, and you can go 70 mph. Please take it and don't slow down. We don't want you here.

lounger 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

tom_bodett 5 years, 6 months ago

Build the freaking road already!! Right down the middle of the man made wetlands!!

repaste 5 years, 6 months ago

lynn Jenkins new husband owns land out by the new route? anyone know? Didn't she marry the wife beater?

manus_flexibilis 5 years, 6 months ago

Snakes, Swine and now a Senator! Any order will do for the stimulating issue. Bail out GM while your @ it, will ya! Leave Tecumseh out of this.

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