Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Work to build trafficway through Baker Wetlands to begin this week

March 18, 2014


What has been debated and litigated for decades will come to be this week: Construction crews will begin building the South Lawrence Trafficway through the Baker Wetlands.

Construction work on the wetland portion of the $130 million roadway will begin by the end of this week, officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

A federal permit will give crews 365 days to complete the work in the environmentally sensitive wetlands.

"All the necessary precautions will be taken at the worksite, given the environmental concerns of the area," said Kimberly Qualls, a spokeswoman with KDOT.

The damage the trafficway would do to the wetlands — which are between Haskell Avenue and Louisiana Street, along 31st Street — has been a major point of contention in lawsuits and protests that have delayed the road project by more than two decades.

But on Tuesday, one of the trafficway's chief opponents said he knew of no organized protests that were planned this week, although he said he wouldn't be surprised if a few individuals choose to do so. But Mike Caron, a member of the Wetlands Preservation Organization, said he was focusing his efforts on trying to get the state to make additional improvements — such as wildlife tunnels — that will make it easier for animals to cross the highway.

"Bad things happen in life, and you have to try to make the best of them," Caron said. "The old saw of making lemonade out of lemons applies here."

According to KDOT, construction crews will begin clearing a path for the road, and then will place layers of geosynthetic fabric and gravel to build a base for the road. The wetlands portion of the road project is expected to be completed by spring 2015. The entire trafficway project, which will connect the Kansas Turnpike west of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, is expected to be completed by Fall 2016.

Caron said he thinks once construction begins that many people will understand how destructive the roadway project will be to the wetland environment.

"It won't take long for the public to understand that it has a much larger impact on the wetlands than what they were led to believe," Caron said.

But supporters of the trafficway have said a mitigation plan will do much to limit the environmental impacts of the roadway. The project includes constructing about 300 acres of manmade wetlands to replace the approximately 55 acres of wetlands that will be taken for the project.

Supporters of the trafficway also have said the project will greatly improve traffic flow and will make the community more attractive for economic development.


Mike Ford 3 years, 10 months ago

I saw the billybobs construction headquarters on old 59 as I went home today. They probably have no idea of the bad they're about to do but neither does much of the greater community. It's no different than the Mexican neighborhood north of downtown Topeka that was a victim of urban renewal with I 70 construction in the 1960's that a co worker who lived in that neighborhood told me about nor is it different than the paving over and destroying that took place south of the Town Center Mall in the historic Black neighborhood in Manhattan, Kansas, where Tiger Wood's father Eldredge Sr. grew up. I went past the segregated pool in that neighborhood on my way to Manhattan Junior High as a child in a school bus daily. If these billybobs come across ANYTHING they shouldn't your road project is over.

Michael Sizemore 3 years, 10 months ago

yep. no different at all...well except I guess that one is generally a swamp, and the other two were neighborhoods. Do you associate all ethnic neighborhoods with swamps?

Mike Ford 3 years, 10 months ago

why don't you ask the Houma or Chittimacha, or Attakapa Indians who live in southern Louisiana this brilliant question? when White people drive Indians or French Acadians onto lands no one else wants they adapt and live on said lands. It's usually the ethnic groups who are targeted by progress and it's proponents that wind up on said lands. What a brilliant question.

Andrew Stahmer 3 years, 10 months ago


Let's just get Joni Mitchell out there with her guitar singing 'they paved paradise and put up a [ugly concrete trafficway]....

Yeah...Joni is still around, but 70 now, so maybe not.....

Beator 3 years, 10 months ago

rednecks? Billybobs? I didn't realize complex, critical thinking name calling was allowed on the web site?

Impressive. Enlightened.

James Howlette 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure you know a lot about what is and isn't allowed here. Posercare live unprecedented. Darwin bless you.

Clark Coan 3 years, 10 months ago

I wish KDOT would build a "Bear Bridge" over the 8-10 lanes of traffic so critters and humans can cross over to the other side to reach the Wakarusa River. They would have to be pressured to do this as it would be expensive. The goal is to extend the Burroughs Creek Trail to both the Wakarusa River and the Kansas River and call it the "Two Rivers" or "River to River" Trail.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

" make the community more attractive for economic development." = Higher taxes and wayyyyy more traffic in Lawrence Kansas. Lawrence is the most expensive town to live accompanied with the lowest wages.

"will make the community more attractive for economic development." = pork barrel for the white collars associated with the real estate industry. A $300 million pork barrel project.

As Lawrence digresses to a population of 250,000 or more with a ton of air pollution,traffic jams, WAY MORE CRIME WHICH IS A LARGE BUDGET ITEM as we speak will explode beyond belief.

"It won't take long for the public to understand that it has a much larger impact on the wetlands than what they were led to believe " Apply that statement to overall environment of Lawrence,Kansas. 250,000 or more people will produce dramatic change beyond belief.

Where does that 250,000 or more number come from? The Lawrence Chamber of Developers and Bankers Political Action Committee Inc. That number is no secret.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence the present size has far far far more crime due mainly to "welcome here" attitude. Probably should thank the KU Social Work Dept. for this gift, which is giving more and more lately.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

Reckless planning is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes. Why does city government protect the real estate industry instead of taxpayers? It's OUR money.

Reckless planning has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - developers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Reckless growth is the result of over four decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. The subsidies range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town thus killing the downtown business district.

We've subsidized reckless planning at such a basic level for so long, that many taxpayers believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of reckless planning sponsored by the development executives.

Reckless growth definitely wastes our tax money. It pulls economic resources away from the downtown business district and spreads them out over sparse developments away from the core. This is economic displacement which prevents solid and consistent economic growth.

Taxes subsidize billions of dollars worth of new roads, new water and sewer lines, new schools and increased police and fire protection at the expense of the needs of the core business district. This leads to degradation of our older neighborhoods and higher taxes.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

Where's your links to the Koch brothers and ALEC? Speaking on behalf of some; we really miss those.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 10 months ago

More than a fare share of workers on this much needed highway will be Native American. Take a drive by the work being done now, today, and tell me if you disagree.

Sometimes the regional hypocrisy astounds me. Oh, I'm wrongo? I forgot, not the correct Native Americans for this issue, oh I get it. Not.

Those Native Americans are OK for agricultural/housing protests, but not for construction issues. Man, libs should hand out scorecards, hard to tell anymore. Protest for freedom, protest for restrictive freedom leaching regulations, protest for government intervention, good ole libs have lost their way.
Also BillyBobs Construction = Good pay, no minimum wage problems on this project either. If you're willing to get dirty and work. Hard honest good paying work too. With bennies out the yingyang.

Plus they hire minorities, all based on job skills. BillyBobs would hire a potato if the veggie could make a modern CAT 414E (Air Conditioned) Skip-loader do the dirt dance for 12 hours.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 10 months ago

You're the one that started the name calling. I wouldn't know if you're intellectually deficient or not but I believe you are intellectually dishonest. Your entire opening screed reeked of liberal bigotry and hate.

Jeanette Kekahbah 3 years, 10 months ago

you are very wrongo.

fare share? is that like splitting the cost of a cab ride?

exactly what is a fair share of Native American workers?

can you explain how to identify Native Americans?

"those" Native Americans...yeah thanks for showing how much you know...

Bob Smith 3 years, 10 months ago

Is somebody going to do a Rachel Corrie?

Greg DiVilbiss 3 years, 10 months ago

I think wildlife tunnels are a good idea...Are there plans to deal with wildlife crossings already? For some reason I thought they were building a wall to minimize sound. Which if they are like other soundwalls would limit crossing points.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 10 months ago

Jennette, Native Americans to me are anybody who can trace ancestry back to no immigration.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 10 months ago

Which by the way I honor, I honor our original peoples of American, matters little to me if they are South American, or Canadian.

Mike Ford 3 years, 10 months ago

what's lost here........a ninety year old Munsee Elder friend of mine passed away last week. She was taken from her parents at age 9 and spent the next eight years at three different Indian boarding schools including Haskell where Indian children were kept from parents on purpose to prevent tribal culture from being handed on to another generation. Language, history, identity, culture, forcibly removed by immigrants here only a couple of centuries. Immigrants so paternalistic and condescending that they thought they had to teach children whose ancestors gave food to incapable and starving immigrants so that these people could survive to steal lands and kill culture. Never mind that tribal people had lived off this land for millennia....not since 1622 or 1776 or 1861. My friend's male counterparts were forced to work the wetlands laying down the tiles to drain the land and building the levees now destroyed in the name of thieving progress. This isn't about comments on working and all the other nonsense on here I've seen. This is about one culture ignoring thousands of petitions and testimonials to sanctify and cover up it's theft. How will a religious college overcome the lack of conscience and respect that is has shown in it's worship of money? this travesty will be hung upon the disrespectful people who pushed it who know no history. I will do this the rest of my life just like the Seneca people who were displaced by the Kinzua Dam in Pennsylvania, the multiple tribes who had their ancestral fishing area Celilo Falls destroyed by a dam in Oregon, or the Kansa people who had a prayer stone removed from Shunga Creek in Tecumseh in 1929 and put in a park by a bridge in Lawrence. Those who know history put up with those that don't trying to limit the damage done by the unknowing.

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