County proposal calls for $90 million in roads
Rural roads in Leavenworth County may be taking a new twist.
The county's future comprehensive plan, which looks to take the county through the next 20 years of growth, includes plans for improving rural roads.
The extent of road improvement will depend on which of three plans the county's planning commission recommends to county commissioners. That recommendation is scheduled to be made in May or June. The final approval of the plan rests with the Leavenworth County Commission.
John Zoellner, Leavenworth County planning director, spoke to about 30 area residents at a planning meeting last week in Tonganoxie. Zoellner said he's considering three road improvement options. Most likely, the upgrades would be made during a 20-year time period, he said.
The first is a $90 million plan that would center on about 160 miles of county roads. This plan would be paid for with a 9-mill property tax levy. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
The second option would update 58 miles of rural roads. This plan, projected to cost about $30 million, would be paid for by a 3-mill property tax levy.
And the third option would leave road improvements up to individual townships.
Zoellner said he's doubtful voters would be in favor of the $90 million plan, because of the higher mill levy.
"It seems like nobody here would support that," he said.
The 3-mill plan, Zoellner said, would have a better chance of public approval.
Joe Daniels, Leavenworth County commissioner for the Third District, which includes Tonganoxie, said one mill currently produces about $333,000 for the county.
Daniels said he doesn't think county residents are paying too much for roads today.
"If you have a valuation of $100,000 on your property, you're paying $64 in property tax for roads each year," Daniels said. "That's not a lot of money."
The 3-mill plan would include the following road changes:
County Road 30 would be paved from Kansas Highway 16 to Kansas Highway 92 five miles.
207th Street would be paved from Kansas Highway 92 to south of Stranger Road 2.5 miles.
A connection would be constructed between County Road 25 and County Road 9. There is no road there now 1.25 miles.
Parallel Road between 223rd Street and Tonganoxie Drive would be paved. Zoellner noted that areas of this road are hard surfaced already.
South of Tonganoxie, County Road 1, a paved road, would be widened from U.S. Highway 24-40 to Interstate 70 2.5 miles.
"These would be the changes in the Tonganoxie area," Zoellner said. "There would be several others in the eastern part of the county."
The 9-mill plan would address north and south roads in Leavenworth County.
"This would create a grid system throughout the whole county on which you could move north and south fairly easily," Zoellner said.
In the western part of the county, the north and south roads would be about three miles apart. In the eastern part of the county, they would be one mile apart.
Zoellner said not all roads would be paved.
"Everybody would be benefited by this grid system," Zoellner said. "It will improve everybody's access to the outside world. But it won't necessarily mean there's a paved road in front of everybody's house."
Roads that are paved will be widened.
"We need the roads to be at least 22 or 24 feet wide, depending on the amount of traffic," Zoellner said.
The right of way would be 40 feet on each side.
"But the major roads would have a 50-foot right of way," Zoellner noted.
To increase safety, the degree of curves and hills would be cut down, before installing pavement.
"If people are driving 50 miles per hour now on unpaved roads, if they hard-surface it, they've going to be driving 55 or 60 if they do that, you're going to have a lot of head-on collisions."
Another cost consideration, Zoellner said, is that the county would have to purchase right of way from landowners to widen roads. He estimated this would take up about 10 percent of the total cost of the road work.