Editorial: Move ahead on Queens Road
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
The reconstruction of Queens Road is long overdue.
The City Commission is hosting a public hearing tonight for the two benefit districts that will be asked to pay for the road project. After the hearing, the city is scheduled to vote on moving forward with the improvements.
Debate has gone on for nearly a decade over paying for the road improvements, which are expected to cost more than $5 million.
Queens Road runs north and south in West Lawrence between Wakarusa and the South Lawrence Trafficway. More than $100 million in new development has occurred on either side of Queens, including The Links, a new apartment complex with more than 600 units. The road also is adjacent to several new single-family home neighborhoods.
The gravel and asphalt-sealed road is full of potholes and doesn’t come close to being adequate to support the surrounding development.
The special benefit districts were created to fund the road improvements. The city finances the improvements and then assesses the properties in the districts for the costs. As part of closing on their new homes, homeowners in the districts signed agreements saying they would not protest the assessments for Queens Road.
The two districts are:
Queens Road from Sixth Street to Eisenhower Drive: The road reconstruction project is estimated to cost $4.85 million. The city will pay to add multi-use paths and bike lanes along the roadway for a total contribution of $638,250. The proposed benefit district only includes properties north of Sixth Street, including properties along portions of Eisenhower Drive, Rock Chalk Drive and Fort Benton Drive, among others.
Intersection improvements at Sixth Street and Queens Road: The project will add a traffic signal and other improvements to the intersection and is estimated to cost $450,000. The proposed benefit district includes all the properties in the Queens Road benefit district, plus about 100 properties south of Sixth Street, including properties along portions of Branchwood Drive, Stonecreek Drive and Deer Run Drive.
Faced with seeing their property taxes rise by potentially thousands of dollars, many homeowners have complained that they were not made aware of the no-protest agreements. Others argue that they don’t need Queens Road, given the other access roads in the area.
The city looked at expanding the benefit districts but ultimately decided against that route. That’s sensible.
Within reason, growth should pay for itself. The time for residents in the Queens Road area to challenge the benefits districts was prior to signing the no-protest agreements when they purchased their homes.
No doubt, city commissioners will hear more complaints tonight. But that should not stop them from moving ahead with the sorely needed Queens Road work.