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Opinion

Opinion

Toll roadblock

The Kansas Department of Transportation is right to set the idea of tolls aside and focus on completing the South Lawrence Trafficway.

January 12, 2012

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It’s good news that Kansas Department of Transportation officials have decided against trying to charge tolls on any portion of the completed South Lawrence Trafficway.

There was no way to charge the tolls that wouldn’t place an unfair burden on local motorists who most often travel on only a small section of the bypass. Even after the SLT is completed, the most common usage by local motorists will be to travel from somewhere in the middle of the bypass to either the west or east end, where they can connect with the Kansas Turnpike or Kansas Highway 10.

KDOT officials had proposed using revenue from the tolls to fund a new SLT interchange at Bob Billings Parkway. Although some Lawrence residents are concerned about the additional traffic that would flow onto Bob Billings and 15th Street, an interchange at that location would provide an important access point to Kansas University and business developments in west Lawrence.

That interchange probably is needed, but KDOT is doing the right thing by keeping its primary focus on the completion of the eastern leg of the SLT. A recent KDOT survey showed that tolls would at least minimally reduce the number of motorists who would use the trafficway instead of existing city streets, such as 23rd Street. Changing the estimates or how much traffic the SLT would attract would require KDOT to go through the cumbersome process of drafting a new environmental impact statement, which would guarantee additional delays in a project that the state hopes to begin construction on by fall of 2013.

State funds have been committed to complete the SLT, and federal permits have been issued for the project. The permits were upheld in federal court, but SLT opponents are appealing that decision, and oral hearings in that case are scheduled for next week in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. If the appeals court upholds the lower court decision, KDOT should be ready to move ahead on this project without any additional roadblocks, such as the need for a new EIS statement.

The impact that tolls would have had on how many people use a completed SLT is just one reason KDOT should dismiss the toll idea — but it is reason enough. Other funding for a new interchange at Bob Billings Parkway can be identified later. The goal now is finish this long-overdue road.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

"If the appeals court upholds the lower court decision, KDOT should be ready to move ahead on this project without any additional roadblocks, such as the need for a new EIS statement."

Best wait to be sure that no other court matters might come up. The existing bridge to nowhere should be demonstration enough. These no tax people sure are anxious to build new roads that will always require more tax dollars...... seems they are a confused lot.

Evening rush hour without accidents is an illusion no matter how many lanes or in what community.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

Cars are the most expensive budget item and are never happy. Always wanting big government assistance no matter that the cars are getting to where they need to be.

Cars are always whining about inconvenience which is why users should pay for this nonsense high tax dollar convenience.

Cars are simply addicted to big government tax dollar welfare going nowhere fast.

And this pork barrel project for the housing industry is another reason users should pay. New housing has become among the largest whiners for more tax dollar spending.

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

New housing starts as a measure of the economy is over rated and loaded with corporate welfare. Users should pay.

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Centerville 2 years, 3 months ago

Hopefully, KDOT is considering some modification of the 6th St and k-10 intersection. Every evening rush hour without an accident is a miracle.

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buckjennings 2 years, 3 months ago

littlexav-- you're going to find yourself disappointed if that's what you really think will happen. Study after study has shown that new roads or more lanes only add congestion. It's also quite funny that the people who want this road the most aren't willing to actually pay for it directly. Hypocrites.

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none2 2 years, 3 months ago

It will help get lots of semi-truck traffic onto K-10 from US-59 so that we can have much more traffic between Lawrence and Johnson County.

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littlexav 2 years, 3 months ago

Amen! I can't wait for this road to be done. It should help take traffic off Lawrence streets for the motorists going back and forth from southern JoCo to I-70.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 months ago

Now if the state will show some smarts just one more time and take the eastern leg south of the Wakarusa.

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