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Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ruling: Officials took ‘hard look’ at SLT plan

Six road blocks that mark the end of the roadway at the South Lawrence Trafficway stand on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. The Kansas Department of Transportation is planning to go ahead with a six-mile, four-lane extension to Kansas Highway 10 next year.

Six road blocks that mark the end of the roadway at the South Lawrence Trafficway stand on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. The Kansas Department of Transportation is planning to go ahead with a six-mile, four-lane extension to Kansas Highway 10 next year.

July 11, 2012

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In its ruling Tuesday that upheld plans for the South Lawrence Trafficway, a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel said any errors in a noise study were “harmless.”

Past stories on the South Lawrence Trafficway

Read past stories on South Lawrence Trafficway.

The Kansas Department of Transportation cheered Tuesday’s ruling because officials believed it ended a legal challenge. KDOT hopes to begin construction in fall 2013 on the six-mile, four-lane leg of Kansas Highway 10 that will connect the highway east of Lawrence with the section on the west side of the city.

Opponents of the route had argued that the process KDOT and the Federal Highway Administration used to arrive at what is called the 32nd Street route, or 32B, was flawed. They also said the government’s analysis too quickly dismissed alternative routes — particularly under a law that protects historic sites, including property associated with Haskell Indian Nations University.

Under the current plan, a nearly $20 million mitigation plan would move both Haskell Avenue and Louisiana Street farther from the current Baker Wetlands and add about 260 acres of new wetlands to the area.

Project opponents asked federal and state officials to consider a route much farther south — along a 42nd Street alignment — because they said highway officials misrepresented the likely impact the road would have on the area and they don’t understand the cultural significance of the wetlands.

But the three-judge panel in the case, Carlos F. Lucero, Stephanie K. Seymour and Timothy M. Tymkovich, who wrote the decision, sided with state and federal highway officials on every issue.

A key part of the opponents’ argument was that a noise study on the project was not complete because it did not measure predicted noise levels of the new SLT against existing noise levels.

The judges said that the noise level comparison was only one step in the process and that the government acted correctly in the next phase when it identified “noise abatement measures,” including the addition of sound barriers in the project.

“Because any error at stage one did not actually prevent the government from proceeding to stage two, and because the analysis at stage two was conducted correctly, we see no possible harm,” Tymkovich wrote.

In other parts of the opinion the court found:

  • The government “did not act arbitrarily or capriciously” in not including an alternative 42nd Street route, known as 42C, which the plaintiffs favored. Highway officials determined that corridor would have been more dangerous because of required curves.
  • KDOT and FHWA were reasonable to use the effect of 23rd Street traffic levels to determine that the 32nd Street route would meet the project’s traffic-reduction goals better than a 42nd Street route.
  • The FHWA provided sufficient justification to conclude that alternatives to the route it selected were not prudent, even when not considering the mitigation measures of the 32nd Street plans.

“Here, it is clear from the record,” Tymkovich wrote, “that the government took a ‘hard look’ at several relevant factors — project goals, cost, floodplain impacts, accelerated development, and environmental impacts — and reasonably demonstrated that (a 42nd Street route) posed enough problems along these factors to render that alternative imprudent.”

Comments

Flap Doodle 1 year, 9 months ago

Seeing who opposed the SLT helped me make up my mind to support it.

0

Maracas 1 year, 9 months ago

The SLT is much needed. Opposition has cost millions and has set the project back for over two decades. It's past time to get it done. Once it's built and people start to drive on it and see the benefits, only the myopic will continue to voice opposition. But they'll be shouting in a windstorm.

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kansasdaughter 1 year, 9 months ago

You don't like the SLT, don't drive on it.

2

bigtoe 1 year, 9 months ago

Why isn't this the headline story? It's the best news for the citizens of Lawrence in the last 10 years.

1

bigtoe 1 year, 9 months ago

"....the three-judge panel in the case....sided with state and federal highway officials on every issue."

Suck it Eye!

0

IdahoWinds 1 year, 9 months ago

Spoken like a truly self absorbed loser. After all, yours is the only real truth in the world, right!

0

Mike Ford 1 year, 9 months ago

I want to build a road through your place of worship......I don't consider your religious beliefs valid...I don't care what I did to acquire said lands because my religious beliefs will absolve me for my hypocracy.....I don't care about your history.... I'm an arrogant american and I don't have to......my country has existed for 236 years and I don't care about anything which may be a century or two old.... I have no patience and I don't care which is why the rest of the world thinks I'm a dunce.....I don't care if it's Pawnee or Kaw or Shawnee land.... I'm an american I don't have to......nailed it.......

0

DeMontfort 1 year, 9 months ago

Bye-Bye RSC. That little industrial park in the southeast corner of Haskell and 31st looks to take a pounding.

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rlsd 1 year, 9 months ago

FINALLY it should have been done LONG ago. The wetlands were manmade so just make them somewhere else!!!

2

Stuart Evans 1 year, 9 months ago

I have a problem with the way LJWorld does their pictures. You post a map of the site as the lead story, then I click on the picture and it takes me to the story, but the map pictured is nowhere to be found. Other times, there's a picture and you click to enlarge, and all you get is this little thumbnail of unviewable junk. How about a little help for those of us who want to take a closer look at the picture.

2

blindrabbit 1 year, 9 months ago

The entire package seems more than reasonable to me. I assume that the now existing portions of Louisiana St. and Haskell Avenues that in-effect appear to be cut-off will now become part of the wetllands, is this correct? The Louisiana re-route to the west seems to be the most complicated. Also a "nature center" and "trails" were mentioned in some of the postings, is the funding for these included in the overall budget for the project, or are that a seperate funding issue? Also, has the location of a "nature center" been determined?

With the realignment for a "new" 31st to the south:, will the now existing 31st Street be removed? Also, with "old" 31st Street being removed, hopefully something can be done to the portion of the wetlands that are now north of 31st. The place has no water re-circulation with the rest of the property, and it is an unsightly mess; hardly a health wetlands situation.

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jesse499 1 year, 9 months ago

Three men with common sense amazing!

2

JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

Supply side economic theories have done exactly the opposite. There aren't many economists left not named Laffer that still buy into them.

4

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

In other words, the justices looked for a rationale for rubber-stamping this-- what is right and just didn't enter their deliberations at all.

0

ljwhirled 1 year, 9 months ago

I am glad that the minority has had their say and their day in court. This is how we respect minority rights in our country, through rule of law.

Now it is done.

BUILD IT.

Also, are they going to add a bike path to extend the one that currently ends at the Hollywood theater?

7

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

The plan was obsolete when introduced and 20 some years later makes it extinct. Toss it and come up with a plan that diverts traffic OUT and AROUND Lawrence,Kansas.

Who is going to pay for this nonsense? Douglas County taxpayers. $200-$300 million for a road that is not necessary.

It's no trouble getting around Lawrence none whatsoever. This design will not make 23rd any less congested for it is KU student traffic that gets a little busy and is bringing all those bucks to town.

It is fiscally reckless for taxpayers to spend millions for new flood control considering the wetlands has been awesome for the past 100 years or so. Taking no money from taxpayers to do the job it does so naturally. Natural flood control is the best bang in the world for taxpayers.

Economic growth in Kansas is now right up there with Mississippi. Mississippi is last in the nation and Kansas is 49th one space from the bottom.

1

JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

Unanimous verdict on every issue. Let's see if the SCOTUS wants to waste time on this case. I'm thinking no.

Get the thing built before Brownback bankrupts the state.

4

manginorh00lz 1 year, 9 months ago

And, finally, Douglas County has the go-ahead to enter the 21st century.

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