Archive for Monday, December 10, 2012

Support grows for loop highway in Douglas, Leavenworth, Johnson counties

December 10, 2012


— Policymakers have been considering the need for a loop highway on the outskirts of suburban Johnson County in part to deal with the swelling population in the county’s rural areas.

An outer loop is being examined as part of a state study on changing transportation demands in Johnson, Wyandotte, Miami, Douglas and Leavenworth counties in eastern Kansas. The study is expected to be finished next year, The Kansas City Star reported.

Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback said he’s among those who’d like to see more serious discussion of such a roadway. He said a loop that would run from Interstate 70 near Tonganoxie south to Gardner and then east toward Missouri would help deal with the growing population and a BNSF shipping hub that’s under construction in Edgerton.

But any plans for a new loop are only in the discussion phase. Money from the state’s transportation budget already has been allocated for major projects, and it generally takes several years to plan such a highway.

“We’re talking 20, 30, 40 years down the road,” Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert said. “It’s a concept rather than a firm proposal.”

The county has urged state officials to consider the outer loop as a “freeway,” which could cost more than $2 billion to build. But the county also has suggested the state could make it a toll road, which could be a hurdle because Kansas requires any new toll road to pay for itself.

There have been two previous failed tries to build a similar highway. In 1995, the county killed plans for a 36-mile loop, and then about five years ago, the county considered and then set aside the idea of building a parkway connecting Cass County in neighboring Missouri with Johnson County in Kansas.


gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

Commuter rail would be a better use of resources and could run on renewable energy.

riverdrifter 5 years, 5 months ago

Agree, but that doesn't address long-term truck traffic around the BNSF intermodal site, which comes online in less than a year.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

This road won't address that, either, if it won't be built for 20-40 years. Besides, I-35 is right there, and 435 isn't far away. And if we had commuter rail in place, there would be a lot fewer cars on existing highways.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. Get commuter cars off the roads, and the commercial traffic will have an easier time.

Currahee 5 years, 5 months ago

Unless if people who live in these rural areas have 2 cars parked- 1 at their departure point and 1 at their destination point or if there's bus service that truly will take anyone anywhere, it is pointless to have. It only works for cities that have a huge metro in place and suburbs- like Chicago or New York. Their transportation systems are comprehensive and you can get around anywhere you want without a car. Renewable energy is also unreliable and can get expensive to maintain. Wind mills require regular maintenance of their turbines, solar doesn't work at night and won't output a lot of power during cloudy days.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

There is a solar plant in Spain that works at night. As for public transportation in major cities, it's not like you get door-to-door service there, either. When my BIL lived in Brooklyn, it was several blocks to the nearest subway station.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Folks seem to do just fine with the commuter buses that go back and forth to the JCCC part of greater KC. It goes every 30 minutes. Seems that this could be emulated in other parts of town as well such as KU Med area. We need to expand these services and throw in a commuter rail where the heaviest bus traffic is maybe, such as JCCC.

Richard07 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree. I have never known of a mass transit rail service being viable in a "rural" type area with the combined population of the above mentioned counties.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

Successful, highly-utilized passenger rail and trolley systems were torn out all over this country by General Motors to force people to buy and use automobiles. Commuter rail would work here and would save lives and money.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

Who says either/or? If you feel compelled to own an automobile, nothing is stopping you, but why would you purposely subject yourself to K-10 for two hours a day if there's an alternative?

There is city bus service from Union Station in Kansas City. Take the T to the Santa Fe station, hop on the commuter train, hop off in Kansas City in 20 minutes, and take the bus to your destination. Reverse at the end of the day. Meanwhile, you're able to work/read/text/eat breakfast/whatever without endangering others on the road. And no road rage. Your household might be able to drop from two cars to one, too. And with enough people doing it, capacity gets added so instead of two in the morning two hours apart, it goes to one every hour for four, and maybe finally every half-hour.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

gccs - give me a realistic estimate. I'm going from where I live at 23rd. and Iowa to where I work in the Country Club Plaza. I take the "T" to the commuter to the city bus in K.C. Taking into account their schedules and add in some wait time, how long would you estimate the trip to be? Don't forget to add in all the stops along the way.

Me, I'm guessing 3 hours each way. I'm guessing K-10 won't lose a single commuter even with a commuter train.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

Since the train doesn't exist yet, any estimate is just that, but it should be possible to get from Lawrence to KC in 20 minutes. From there there is a bus that goes from Union Station to the Plaza in 20 minutes.

The T routes blow and would have to be redone. Google says it takes 37 minutes from 23rd & Iowa to the Amtrak station (because of two walking portions and because it winds through neighborhoods and crosses campus), when it should be no more than 20 minutes.

Designed properly, the route would be an eastbound 23rd bus to Mass, then a northbound Mass bus to 7th & New Hampshire (as it loops around to go back south), and walk over, or a northbound Iowa bus to 6th and an eastbound 6th street bus to 7th & New Hampshire, and walk over. So all told, with good routes and timing, it could be an hour, but you're right that the way it is now, it'd be three.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, gc, this is exactly the kind of sensible thinking that we need. It's a win-win situation: plugging light rail or more commuter buses into the existing KC bus network in a way specifically designed to keep commuting time reasonable from Lawrence would not only increase KC bus ridership, it would reduce highway traffic and guarantee a base of commuters who would participate. This is not pie-in-the-sky, it's common sense.

Michael Throop 5 years, 5 months ago

Actually, that's not true: A combination of Depression-era losses (in the millions due to the lack of workers to take the trolleys) and the fact buses are cheaper to operate, as well as the maneuverability led to the elimination of the trolley in many cities.In fact, the popularity and affordability of cars, thanks to the Model T, predated the Depression as a stake in the heart of the trolleys. So, if you want to play conspiracy theorist, blame Henry Ford.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

The Model T wouldn't have been as popular as the train and trolleys if people questioned building roads like they do mass transit. That and the fact we have burned through all the cheap oil and gas and it will only continue to get more expensive because the techniques used to extract it get more expensive plus is more damaging to the environment. Politicians are shortsighted and we shouldn't listen to what they think we should be doing in the future.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

The Kansas City metro area, however, is highly populated.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

As did Winfield and Hutchinson and other towns in Kansas.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget Lawrence. The liquor store just south of Euro Dillons on Massachusetts St. used to be a trolly repair building.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Since the stupid reply button under the comment isn't working for me I'll do it the old fashion way-

Liberal 56 minutes ago

As long as you were willing to go back to the days of not having a car to go where you want when you want. How often would this system run in smaller communities once a day? How do you get from the rail line to where you are really going? Rent a horse? Anyone seen a cab lately? In rural, small cities especially one that is spread out like KC are talking major boondoggle.

There use to be an interurban between Lawrence and KC that ran every hour and stopped in towns that don't even exist today (ie small towns) and then you could take the trolleys in Lawrence and KC to get to where you were going.

Years of carcentric urban planning, Lawrence is a perfect example, is the real problem. There are people in hick towns like NYC where people don't have cars and don't believe they are using horses either. Proper planning and working to fix the mistakes of our sprawling growth should be a priority.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

All these roads are sure goin to be purdy when the cost of extracting oil and gas is prohibitively expensive to think we'll be driving like we are today. Trucking companies are already aware of this and moving to more piggybacks on trains. In 30-40 years it is unlikely people will be able to afford commuting 50 miles one way every day.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm down with you changing "30-40" to "10-20". Of course, I'm biased since I live two miles from work and can't afford the commute! :)

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

cheeseburger 58 minutes ago It will be if your friends Caron, Eye, and tuschie become involved in their traditional obstructionist practices

While the sheep follow obediently, too ignorant to explore the facts.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

rvjayhawk 4 hours, 4 minutes ago Commuter rail has not worked anywhere other than highly populated areas. And Kansas is not highly populated.

What is the definition of "worked"? Not making a profit? So where is the profit from the roads? Explain how building roads which is done from taxes, just like Amtrak, is producing a profit.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

"gccs - give me a realistic estimate. I'm going from where I live at 23rd. and Iowa to where I work in the Country Club Plaza. I take the "T" to the commuter to the city bus in K.C. Taking into account their schedules and add in some wait time, how long would you estimate the trip to be? Don't forget to add in all the stops along the way."

Step one, consider why do you live in Lawrence when you work in KC? That is if we really want to get to the real issue. Oh I know, it is your right and all but imagine you are one of those who complains about evil oil companies and Obama whenever gas prices go up. Look at the facts, look at what is going down.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, it was just a hypothetical. I don't live at 23rd. & Iowa nor do I work in K.C. I live and work right here in Lawrence. But lots of people are using the K-10 corridor to commute and if the question is how to get them off the road and into commuter trains, as has been suggested, the best way to accomplish that might be to raise taxes on gas to $10/gallon and make those commuter trains free. 'Cause you're not making them competitive time wise when you sandwich the "T" on one side and K.C.'s buses on the other.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

And many of the people using highway 10 are often trying to do other things while driving. Just think how much better off they 'd be when they discover they can text to their heart's delight while letting a professional handle the machinery.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Did they have to make the BART free to get people to use it instead of their car?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

They took the other approach by making auto use very, very expensive (the $10/gallon tax on gas, I mentioned).

It costs $5/day to drive across the Bay Bridge. Then it costs anywhere from $20-$25/day to park in the city. Should you choose to park on the streets, assuming you could find a spot, just about every spot anywhere near downtown is metered at 25 cents for 5 minutes. Go figure out a typical 8 hour work day. Should you get a parking ticket for exceeding your time, $70 in just about the minimum, while if you do something really dumb and park in a bus zone or handicapped zone, the ticket is $475. Then there's the cost of the twice yearly break-in of your car.

BART - free? No. Driving - very expensive? Yes.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

There's already a toll road between here and the Plaza, and we also have metered parking outside of private lots, speeding tickets, and the expense of gas. It's already expensive to own and maintain a car.

If there were a reasonably priced route between here and there, people would take it instead of their cars, even if it made the commute time longer. Within reason, of course. People outside of New York would hesitate at spending three hours per trip.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure what you're referring to. If we had one train in the morning from Lawrence to K.C. with a return in the afternoon, the costs would not be too terribly high. But how many people would that appeal to? Not many I would guess. Certainly not enough to reduce congestion on the K-10 corridor.

Now if you are referring to a system like BART, then we're talking about multiple spurs meeting at a common place in K.C. Since we referenced the K-10 corridor already, I'll assume that we're talking about a system where we're trying to attract as many people as possible, so it might start in the southern part of Topeka, run through Lawrence, stops in Eudora, DeSoto, Olathe, Lenexa, Overland Park, a few more on it's way to that central location. That would be one of the spurs. Others might begin in northern Topeka and go through Jefferson Co., Tonganoxie, Leavenworth, by the Legends, into downtown K.C.K. and then to the central location. Spurs coming in from the north and east might complete the line.

How all this factors into "reasonably priced", I don't know? It could only be accomplished with huge taxpayer subsidies. And by appealing to more riders by having more stops, the travel time becomes an issue.

The analogy with San Francisco doesn't really work, in my opinion. The cost of auto ownership is so much higher. Unless you can get K.C. to start metering many more streets at 25 cents for 5 minutes, parking tickets at $70 each, parking lots that cost $20/day, etc. (One further difference between the two cities is that there are more cars registered in San Francisco than there are available spots to park them. Supply and demand suggests that simply parking comes at a premium that people will either pay for or choose not to drive. For K.C. to do what S.F. has, they would need to radically reduce the number of available parking places. Surrounded by water on three sides, S.F. was forced into their situation. I don't think K.C. is inclined to voluntarily put itself in that place.)

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

There's already a bus between here and Overland Park. It happens to be the most popular bus on the entire JO system and to run every half hour for most of the day. Sure, it's mostly students, but it's not all students, and it's proof of concept that people are already willing to give up their time and cars to get from point A to point B if there is an easy way to do so.

A rail system like the other poster was talking about could not stop at Gardener and Overland Park, because the train doesn't go there. No tracks. That would have to be buses or other transportation. The tracks go between Lawrence and Union Station, and it takes less time than driving. Build the hub at Union Station, and people would take the train.

KC actually voted for a light rail hub a while back, but the city council overruled them at the urging of rich donors. Last I heard, they were still pushing for street cars and still wanted a starter rail to go between Union Station and the River Market.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

If it's as easy as getting from point A to point B, then there's little problem. It's when you walk to the bus stop, catch the T, then transfer to another T just to get to point A. Take the train to point B, then a bus, transfer, another bus and you're finally at your destination.

I support public transportation. I rode BART a little, the N-Judah was my preferred method. But Kansas City is so far away from San Francisco in terms of a coordinated public transit system that simply adding a commuter line between Lawrence and Union Station won't do much of anything. If I'm wrong, and a train will fill up, or nearly so, great. But if it's expensive and nearly empty, then it just breeds a rejectionist attitude amongst those who are predisposed to be against publicly funded transit.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

The Chamber and the builders screwed up big time. Should have been building in the southeast corner where the 4 lane highway is...

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

In all fairness, sometimes you don't plan a job switch, and some families have one person working in Topeka, one in KC.

But I think if they'd started building fancy houses on the east side of town a lot sooner, there wouldn't have been nearly as much need. Back when the project was first proposed, they weren't allowing development on that end.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

And that would be another good reason to have the commuter rail stretch from Manhattan to Independence, MO. Then you could have folks live in Lawrence and go both directions.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Bring on commuter rail. Prepare Kansas for the real world.

BTW Kansas has the 9th highest sales tax in the nation. Lawrence must be in the top ten.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Where's the money?

For the sake of tax dollar efficiency kill the wetlands route and put that 200-300 million tax $$$$$ in the loop pie.

flloyd 5 years, 5 months ago

People complain about Amtrak getting subsidies. What about the oil & gas companies getting these roads built at tax payer expense? Talk about a subsidy...

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Seems to me that if you targeted a group of commuters and synchronized the bus/light rail with the KC Metro buses, delays could be minimized and become viable alternatives. Maybe the Downtown Lawrence Association and the Westport folks should get a commuter bus together to get young folks back and forth from the party districts on Fridays and Saturdays, thereby keeping them off the road. A well designed, well advertised set of routes like this ought to work just fine.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 5 months ago

Eliminate commuter drivers by making parking astronomically expensive and hard to find. My brother has lived in Boston since going to school up there and gave his car to me to have here. He takes the T and the bus system everywhere. On the rare occasions he needs a car to get somewhere, he gets a ride with friends or rents a car for a day. My parents relocated to Baltimore after my dad took a job opportunity in DC. He leaves ridiculously early in the morning to drive to the commuter train station near the Baltimore airport. Then there's the 45 minute train ride to Union Station with a transfer to the metro and the walk to the office. All of that was exchanged with an 8 minute commute from one Minneapolis suburb to another. But you do what you can to get the house you can afford and get to work so you can put food on the table. If you didn't know, it's a lot less expensive to live outside of DC and commute than it is to live in the city or the immediate suburbs. So you can see that public transit commuting isn't easy and you have to make sacrifices.

In this case, we might look at Minneapolis/St. Paul as a model for what could be done in the KC area. While the MSP metro area is less spread out in some ways, there are people making the hour+ commute from western Wisconsin. What many of the suburbs around the cities have done is added a commuter bus route from a central part of their town that goes directly to Minneapolis. While a few of these suburbs have a bus system like the T, several of them only have this commuter router. Several cities have even banded together to benefit from one system. All of these routes integrate into the MSP bus system using the already existant stops and hub. They go to large shopping and business areas as well as the University of Minnesota. The system for where I lived has a large hub near the mall with a free parking garage. There are commuter buses that go to several parts of Minneapolis that leave every few minutes. From there, you can connect to many metro bus routes to get almost anywhere in MSP. Perhaps a similar system could be built by expanding the JO and integrating it with the KC metro bus system. It could go to more than just JCCC if several communities contributed.

Linda Aikins 5 years, 5 months ago

Highway 54 that runs through Wichita and to the southern part of the state?

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

The goal is to make sure public transportation never works as well as the car in this area. I've never seen a bigger bunch of blockheads as in this area where people think because land is cheap and goes forever the solution is always just another road and then making that road even bigger.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

The trend is toward not paying for public transportation. Blame the Johnson County city counsel for that one. Ridership on the JO has been on the rise.

tomatogrower 5 years, 5 months ago

But don't make them pay any taxes for it. Maybe if businesses and people really want this road they should be willing to pay for it. You know, with evil taxes. Or make the businesses build the road and charge a toll. Isn't that the conservative's solution? Oh no, they want the government to do all that, without charging taxes, while they take all the credit for it. Then they accuse the liberals of wanting free stuff. Did you know that the tax raise that the president want will affect more blue states, than red states? Already the red states are the takers, this will just make them even more takers. Funny.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Imagine the types who support Brownshirt and this kind of road building nonsense are the same people who were driving the biggest suvs they could in the '00 with their support the troops ribbons, the troops over getting blown up while the typical pig American was wasting resources without any thought of the sacrifices it required.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

A relevant study worth looking at was done in the 90s where they compared Des Moines, IA and Lincoln, NE, each roughly the same population, but Des Moines spending a billion dollars more creating a transportation loop around itself. Guess what: the congestion rate was LESS on the Lincoln roads than the Des Moines roads, because the ribbons of asphalt promoted sprawl, folks living further away and commuting further, and businesses locating way out in the boonies. KC metro is already seriously sprawled; this will only make it worse.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.