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City considering $3.5 million swap with KDOT on West Sixth Street


With the trade deadline approaching in Major League Baseball, maybe City Manager David Corliss also can moonlight a bit as the general manager of the Kansas City Royals. Corliss is in a deal-making mode.

After months of wheeling and dealing on the public-private partnership for the Rock Chalk Park project, Corliss now is sharing details of a proposed swap he wants commissioners to consider making with the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The gist of the deal is that the city of Lawrence will relieve the state of any financial responsibility to maintain the portion of West Sixth Street between Iowa Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway in northwest Lawrence.

Currently, the state has some maintenance and financial responsibilities on that stretch of street because in addition to being Sixth Street, it also serves as U.S. Highway 40.

Under the proposed deal, the U.S. Highway 40 designation will be dropped, and the state’s maintenance responsibilities will be eliminated. In exchange, the state will provide about $3.5 million in one-time funding for the city to undertake several other street projects in the city.

Is this a good deal? I don’t know. It doesn’t solve the Royals’ need for a power-hitting right fielder, but it does give the city funding to tackle several road-related projects. They include:

• $1.5 million to make turning lane improvements at Sixth and Iowa streets.

• $1 million to help defray the city’s expense to improve the intersection of 23rd and Iowa streets, which is a major rebuilding project scheduled for 2014.

• An approximately $500,000 reduction in the amount of money the city and the county will have to provide to KDOT as part of a new interchange that will be built on the South Lawrence Trafficway where it intersects with Bob Billings Parkway

• $500,000 to help the city install traffic signals at two intersections that likely will need them in the near future. Those are Sixth Street and George Williams Way, which will be the major entrance into Rock Chalk Park; and Sixth Street and Champion Lane, which is an entrance into the Bauer Farm Development in front of Free State High.

Several of these projects the city already had budgeted to complete, so Corliss is proposing that those budgeted dollars be shifted to other projects. Think of it like a player-to-be-named later. It's not a second baseman who can hit, but the projects are significant nonetheless. They include:

• $1.5 million to be used for acquisition and design of a possible new police headquarters building. The $1.5 million would be just the initial funding needed for what has been projected to be about a $20 million project. Commissioners haven’t committed to a timeline for that project, but have expressed some interest in securing a possible site for the facility.

• $325,000 for the city to use as its match on a federal/state grant to restore the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence.

• $275,000 for a new traffic signal at Bob Billings Parkway and George Williams Way, which will be just east of the new South Lawrence Trafficway and Bob Billings Parkway interchange.

• $400,000 for the city to expand the city’s ring of fiber optic cable around the city.

As for what KDOT will be getting in this deal, it won’t have to participate anymore in projects to repave or rebuild the portion of Sixth Street between Iowa and the SLT. Corliss is estimating that the state pays the city about $40,000 per year for that section of roadway. I haven’t chatted with Corliss about how he’s quantified that number, but it is a little difficult to ascertain just how much the state may spend on that section of road during any given year.

The city is allowed to apply for state grants through its KLINK program, which provides funds to cities for city streets that also serve as state highways. The grants never pay for all of the work to resurface a road, but they do chip in a significant amount. For example, the city this summer will repave the section of Iowa Street, which also is U.S. Highway 59, from 29th Street to the southern city limits. That approximately one-mile stretch of road will cost about $435,000 to repave. The state will provide a $200,000 grant for the work.

Once the state removes the U.S. 40 designation from this four-mile section of Sixth Street, that portion of road won’t be eligible for the KLINK grants in the future.

So this trade, just like a baseball trade, probably will come down to performance: How well will West Sixth Street perform in the future? How much maintenance will it need? City officials believe now is a good time to make the deal because the section of Sixth Street has undergone several improvements in recent years that should limit its maintenance needs in the near future.

Commissioners will discuss the possible agreement with the state at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today.


edgla 4 years, 11 months ago

Any word on where Hwy 40 would route if this happened?

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 11 months ago

One option under consideration by the state is to use the western portion of the South Lawrence Trafficway, then Iowa Street in south Lawrence, up to Sixth and Iowa. Sixth Street east of Iowa would remain U.S. 40 and then into North Lawrence to connect with the portion of Highway 40 that is outside the city limits north of Lawrence. Thanks, Chad

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

KDOT should save themselves a lot of trouble and send US40 north to 24 at 75 in Topeka and bypass Lawrence. 40 between Topeka and Lawrence doesn't meet current Federal highway standards and would be too expensive to upgrade, so it should be abandoned. The funds saved could be used to widen 24 to four lanes.

JayhawkFan1985 4 years, 11 months ago

Who wants to drive on us24? It's north of the Kansas river. Guess what...Lawrence and Topeka are 99% south of the river.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

I-70 is the superior option for traveling between Lawrence and Topeka. Removing the US40 designation from the winding country lane that pretends to be a Federal highway won't remove the road, it will just change who pays to maintain it.

average 4 years, 11 months ago

Merging 24-40 all to way to Topeka makes the most sense. If I-70 hadn't been built as a toll road (and Kansas didn't merge US routes onto the turnpike), the old 40 would have become a county road 50 years ago.

However, it's only the city of Lawrence who is proposing to remove the designation. Douglas and Shawnee county governments would not be pleased to add another 15 miles of busy but outdated (even by county standards) road to their maintenance inventory.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

Once the Federal Highway designation was removed, the counties could drop the speed limit on it to 45, which would cut the traffic on it by 2/3. That would save on maintenance and get the commuters up onto I-70 where they should be, and make the road safer for the people who live along it.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like penny wise, pound foolish. Forever is a long time.

chicago95 4 years, 11 months ago

Drop the South Lawrence Trafficway interchange at Bob Billings Parkway and install traffic signals where it intersects 6th Street.

Joe Adams 4 years, 11 months ago

I always wondered why there is no traffic signal at 6th and the SLT. That turn gets incredibly backed up with folks heading east on 40 non-stop in the evening and people trying to turn east from the Southbound exit of the SLT.

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 11 months ago

Traffic signals for Sixth and the SLT are planned regardless of whether this deal goes forward or not. The state plans to go out to bid for a $180,000 project in the fall of this year for those traffic signals at the interchange. Thanks, Chad

Joe Adams 4 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Chad. Does a bid in the fall reflect signals by the end of the year then?

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure of the timeline for construction. I'll report back on that when I hear. Thanks, Chad

Catalano 4 years, 11 months ago

Have Nate Silver analyze it and give you the odds.

Jack Clayton 4 years, 11 months ago

This is just another sign of the impending sprawl that will accompany the Rock Chalk Park development, etc.. They've already rezoned the area West of the SLC on Sixth for retail. In 10 years Lawrence will be East Topeka and West Overland Park. Enjoy it while you can City Commission, as you continue to bend over to developers and let businessmen rape and parcel up our town's perimeter countryside for their private gain, irrespective of any comprehensive plan, the needs of the citizens, or the environmental and cultural impacts. In doing this you are facilitating the ruination our town.

Joe Berns 4 years, 11 months ago

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. Hell NO! No more friggin traffic lights on west 6th street. That used to be a nice drive out of town to either the lake or the turnpike and now its gas, brake, gas, brake, all the way out to the overpass. There are already too many traffic lights out there. We don't need another one heading into bauer farms. Make everyone who needs to get in there, myself included, go down a block or two and hit the light at walkarusa or the one at folks road.

I am down for a traffic light at the overpass because it is a congested mess after 4:30 pm, but no more on the drive heading out of town. There are already too many as it is.

blindrabbit 4 years, 11 months ago

With all of this development going on on west 6th better think about modernizing Highway 40 west of the SLC to Stull Road (Route 442) turn. This section is very dangerous with blind entrances, hilly conditions, no shoulders and plenty of traffic. Also, the off-camber turn from west bound 40 onto Stull Road is very bad, invisible at night; but not suggesting any lighting!

Jean Robart 4 years, 11 months ago

Are they serious? KLINK? This sounds like a klink of a deal.

ontheright 4 years, 11 months ago

I love it how the word Grant is used like it's just free money blowing thru the wind!

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