Archive for Monday, September 28, 2009

Trafficway funding boost expected

Senate transportation bill contains $1.25M requested by Roberts

Cars travel on U.S. 59 just south of Lawrence in this file photo. Backers of the South Lawrence Trafficway project hoped that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would help complete the roadwork.

Cars travel on U.S. 59 just south of Lawrence in this file photo. Backers of the South Lawrence Trafficway project hoped that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would help complete the roadwork.

September 28, 2009


KDOT Secretary Deb Miller

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller talks about the South Lawrence Trafficway project following a news conference by highway interests pushing for a new comprehensive transportation program. Enlarge video

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The money isn’t in the bank yet, but area and state officials already are looking forward to spending another $1.25 million on the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The financing, requested by U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, is included in a federal transportation bill passed earlier this month by the Senate and sent to a conference committee for consolidation with the House version.

There’s no telling when or if a finished bill might win approval and head to President Barack Obama for a signature, but the support from Washington already is paying off in Kansas, where officials are busy crafting support for a state transportation program.

“Economic impact” is among the new components expected to be weighed by state transportation officials as they consider which highway projects ought to be included in plans, and Roberts’ push for trafficway financing comes with support for completing what he considers a vital highway link in an area where biotechnology, animal sciences and other high-tech endeavors exist and are poised for growth.

“This is one more investment in improving the safety and efficiency of transportation in Lawrence and along the Kansas High Tech Corridor,” said Roberts, R-Kan.

Mitigation money

Roberts previously secured $1.5 million for trafficway work. That money financed creation of 142 acres of wetlands south of 31st Street and west of East 1400 Road, which is the extension of Louisiana Street at the southern edge of Lawrence.

The new wetlands are part of a plan to comply with a ruling from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which stipulates that the Kansas Department of transportation must create 304 acres of such wetlands to compensate for the planned destruction of an existing portion of the nearby Baker Wetlands.

The trafficway is slated to connect U.S. Highway 59 at the southern edge of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 at the southeastern edge, generally by following what is known as a “32nd Street alignment.” The highway would cut through the northern edge of the Baker Wetlands, between Louisiana Street and Haskell Avenue.

The route, approved by the Corps of Engineers, 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.

Preliminary work

The Kansas Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is preparing for the road’s construction, despite not having the $144 million that would be needed for actually building it.

The anticipated $1.25 million from the federal transportation bill likely would be used to purchase property east of Haskell Avenue, said Corky Armstrong, engineering manager for the department’s State Road Office. That property, east of the existing Baker Wetlands, would be used to create additional wetlands to satisfy the terms of the Corps of Engineers’ permit.

The state also has completed formal surveys to determine where the highway would be built, but has yet to document exactly which properties — or how much of owners’ parcels — would need to be acquired.

“We should have that right-of-way, at least initially, identified by the end of the year,” Armstrong said. “We’re moving forward to develop the right-of-way plans so that if something becomes available — like the earmark from Senator Roberts — then we will have something to do with the money for the project. And that’s buy right-of-way and/or restore some wetlands.”

Roger Boyd, Baker’s director of natural areas, continues to work on the 142 acres of mitigated wetlands west of the Baker Wetlands. By Thursday he plans to complete paperwork certifying to KDOT that the mitigation area is functioning as planned, with enough plants, hydric soil and water to meet federal standards.

“It’s safe to say, at least from a preliminary standpoint, that they are wetlands,” Boyd said.


infidel 8 years, 9 months ago

I guess Roberts is doing something good for a change.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"The Kansas Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is preparing for the road’s construction, despite not having the $144 million that would be needed for actually building it.

The anticipated $1.25 million from the federal transportation bill likely would be used to purchase property east of Haskell Avenue,"

At this rate, it'll be complete in about 100 years.

This is nothing but porkbarrel politics at its worst. Check out contributions made to Roberts, and you'll almost certainly find contributions from those who will profit most from the building of this road-- pay especially close attention to who owns the land targeted for purchase with this $1.5 million.

cowboy 8 years, 9 months ago

roberts raised a small fortune in 08 , most of it from big oil, that being said the ground east of Haskell could be sold anytime and have a list of suitors , the properties sell fast . don't know that the SLT has anything to do with it though as there are a lot of local investors that buy this ground for safe investments and it does not come up for sale often.

puddleglum 8 years, 9 months ago

slt right-of-way monies? that sounds familiar.

onetime97 8 years, 9 months ago

We'll its going to create more wetlands..not to the actual if it was going to cost $144 million five years ago to build its probably going to cost $180 million now...and so on and so forth as every year passes.

So, KDOT can move ahead to make plans to build the road but it seems 1.25 million would be better spend on widening 23rd street.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

Here's hoping that our embarrassing SLT detour through town quickly turns into glorious K-10 pavement.

Tim Devine 8 years, 9 months ago

This project is way overdue and has become an embarrassment to citizens of Douglas County. This issue is almost good comedy for late night TV.

The traffic on 23rd is now out of control, damaging the roads of lawrence and has become a danger to the public. Lawrence has waited too long and must act now. The solution was developed years ago and it's time to start holding our elected officials accountable to complete this project now that all environmental concerns are resolved.

And who cares who gets xx$$ for their land. That is what happens sometimes when you own something of value.

If the poll is a strong indication of how the public feels then GETT'ER DONE!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"And who cares who gets xx$$ for their land."

The landowners, who are salivating over the prospect of reaping their rewards for helping Senator Roberts buy reelection.

BigPrune 8 years, 9 months ago

Why not use most of the $11.7 million stimulation money as a down payment for the bypass? The bypass will do more good faster for Lawrence's economy than laying some water/sewer lines to the airport.

quimby 8 years, 9 months ago

our community would be better served if these funds were used to create a robust commuter transit service, which would take cars off the road and relieve congestion on our roadways. widening/extending/building more roads is not always the answer to our congestion problems - especially when tribal and environmental considerations are present. there's a reason this thing hasn't happened, and it should not be taken lightly. we don't really even have congestion in lawrence...

blindrabbit 8 years, 9 months ago

The other day someone posted that 23rd Street was not a bottleneck to traffic moving across the South side of Lawrence, and therefore the continuation of Hiway 10 Bypass East of Iowa St.was not needed. This past weekend, I needed on two occasions (mid-day Sunday) to drive into Southeast Lawrence from my residence 2 miles West of the highway 10/US 40 exchange.

On one occasion I used West Bypass/Clinton Parkway/23rd Street to Haskell Avenue, distance was about 10 miles. I encountered 12 red lights and the trip took 24 minutes.

Second trip (same startring and ending points). Took Bypass to US59 then across dirt road (N 1250 rd.) to Louisiana St., up to 31st St. east to Haskell Ave, then up to 23rd. Distance had increased by 2 miles (because of dog-leg), to 12 miles. Encountered only 1 red light and 3 stop signs and the trip took 16 minutes.

Please convince me that 23rd. is not a bottleneck to moving across town. And I am a trained environmentalist and naturalist and Nature Conservancy/Sierra Club member and Baker Wetlands visitor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"The bypass will do more good faster for Lawrence's economy than laying some water/sewer lines to the airport."

The completion of the SLT through the Haskell wetlands would have zero effect on Lawrence's economy. Its only accomplishments would be (1 yet another show of complete disrespect for Haskell and Native Americans; (2 needless destruction of wildlife habitat; (3 short-term profits for a few well-connected speculators and highway construction companies; 4) 5 minutes of convenience for commuters making commutes that are neither economically nor ecologically sustainable. These commuters probably amount to fewer than 20% of Lawrence's population. For the remaining 80% of Larryvillagers, it would make no significant difference in day-to-day life (and not building it would save us at least $150 million that could be much better spent.)

blindrabbit 8 years, 9 months ago

quimby: The solutions that you propose by improving commuter transit service are not in any significant measure related to the issue of the bypass. I agree transit service needs improvement, but how is that related to the 23rd Street mess and the need of people to avoid that situation and get around Lawrence.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

"...commutes that are neither economically nor ecologically sustainable." -bozo

Have you invented cold fusion, bozo? Perhaps a particle transmitter? How about a solar wind sailboat or a fleet of cars that run on underground magnets?

I'm all for travel between Lawrence and Olathe on make-believe transit devices, but until these products come to market the rest of us will be working on viable solutions to regional transportation needs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

So, your demand for five minutes of convenience trumps everything else, eh, blue?

blindrabbit 8 years, 9 months ago

bozo: Think of the wasted fuel, time, nerves, rearenders, air pollution expended in sitting in traffic as you try to pass through Lawrence on 23rd st. My guess is that either you do not need to commute, because Lawrence has such good paying jobs and therefore commutes to Johnson County are frivolous, you are independently fixed and do not need a "good" job, or because you are not employed.

Try getting across 23rd. St and the 14 traffic lights (between Harper to Wakarusa) going Westbound between 7:00-8:30 a.m.OR Eastbound from 4:00-5:30 p.m. on a weekday.

Fixing mass transit in Lawrence is not the answer for many of these problems because there are no major destination centers in the Kansas City area.

quimby 8 years, 9 months ago

blind rabbit - the congestion issues you speak of could, indeed, but largely remedied with some proper signal timing, as well as increased transit service and bike/ped usage.

additionally, no destinations in kc - really? then tell that to the folks that are helping make the k-10 connector so successful. also, tell that to all the lawrencians who regularly shoot into KC for their work, royals/chiefs games, the sprint center, the plaza, any of the numerous medical centers, good eateries, etc...

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

All of that property east of Haskell is some expensive property due to the buisness people located in the area. That property could likely cost $100k per acre. This is an example of reckless spending which of course Roberts has supported for many years. Local gov't has some like problems.

For example:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal

  2. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money?

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion and wreck the economy)

  5. Reagan/Bsuh Iran-Contra Secret Weapons Deal


  8. Reagan/Bush - Bush/Cheney Weapons Deals


  11. $9 Billion Lost In Iraq

  12. Thousands of Weapons Lost In Iraq May be Going To Taliban

  13. Local Gov't Reckless Spending That Which Demand Never Ending Tax Increases

blindrabbit 8 years, 9 months ago

quimby: I commuted from Lawrence to Kansas City for 17 years; the worst part being 23rd Street. I've also commuted to work in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and San Francisco from their suburbs; where mass transit works very well because of major destination and employment centers as well as adequate population densities. (Ideal situations for mass transit situations). These cities have much higher populations than the KC area, are more urban in design, and have great multilayered transit systems, and have major defined destinations. Kansas City is in a totally different situation.

Attempting to apply those solutions to our discussion is apples and turnips; too low population density, not well defined destinations and employment centers in the KC Metro area as well as minimal connector service there.

K-10 connector is a great idea; but really, does it address the major needs. Also, entertainment events such as eateries, sports venues, Sprint Center, Plaza as well as medical are not the problems associated with this thread, they tend to be off-rush hour events anyway.. The real issue is with the daily commuters going to or coming from work, school etc.

Maybe, we need to investigate a better system of car pooling, including some tax rebate or credit for those that do!

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

blindrabbit gets the Common Sense Award for today.

cowboy 8 years, 8 months ago

Maybe Bozo should back up his claims of landowners contributing to Roberts campaign. Roberts is an A$$hat but really owned by big oil not little piddly landowners in douglas county

how do the anti wetlands folks justify the south of the river route when you're destroying farmland and homes versus frogs and swamp. The road will be a minor intrusion and the wetlands will survive without impact. Any of you ever been to louisiana ?

geekin_topekan 8 years, 8 months ago

Up in Madtown (Madison, Wi.) there was once a similar battle over an extremely similar wetlands. This was many moons ago and I paid little attention because I was a kid with bigger fish to fry. What eventually came out of it was an elevated highway that ran 30 feet overhead of the wetlands. Today it still has the same trails and habitat and refuge, both wildlife and people's, that was the cause of the rage. Feel free to build this over the Baker wetlands. This project would have my approval. This would be expensive and I doubt what Sen. Robert's donors have in mind but, whatever.

Oh and, kiss my foot. Kiss it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"Maybe Bozo should back up his claims of landowners contributing to Roberts campaign."

I don't know who's going to making a windfall on this, or whether they've contributed to Roberts. But in the purchase of right of way for the western portion some years back, there was a good deal of profiteering by well-connected speculators draining public coffers. Why would this be any different?

"Roberts is an A$$hat but really owned by big oil not little piddly landowners in douglas county"

Indeed, and what does big oil need to keep selling oil? Highways. And if there is a potential that a highway won't get built because it's unnecessary? Can't have that. That's where Pat Roberts and porkbarrel politics steps in.

quimby 8 years, 8 months ago

blindrabbit - your point about density is valid, but how will we ever get higher densities/transit-oriented design without transit? you might take a look at some of the transit planning going on in the kc area b/f you diss the potential for a multi-layered transit system here. also, i didn't say the k-10 connector solved all our problems - far from it. i just cited it as an example of a successful tarnsit linkage between lawrence and the kc area. i agree with you about carpooling - there is a good carpooling match system in place, if you're interested in getting on board with that.

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