Our view: Highways important to our city’s future
It's time to pay attention.
That was the message Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez delivered Monday night to city council members and Mayor Dave Taylor.
Yanez isn't accusing anyone of sleeping on the job. No, he just wants Tonganoxie's elected officials to be super-sensitive to upcoming discussions about area highways -- and what that will mean to the future of our city.
The heads up that Yanez gave council members on Monday centered on two highways that are lifelines to the city of Tonganoxie:
- U.S. Highway 24-40 between Tonganoxie and the Kansas City metropolitan area.
- Kansas Highway 7 from Leavenworth-Lansing south through Johnson County.
The Kansas Department of Transportation currently is studying K-7 and soon will undertake a study of 24-40 to determine the future of these highways. It appears there are two options: Make the highways into freeways with interchanges or allow them to develop into expressways, with traffic lights at every major intersection.
Transportation is a key ingredient to Tonganoxie's growth. Easy access to the Kansas City area for commuters and for people seeking more entertainment opportunities is important. If 24-40 and K-7 are allowed to become clogged, slow-moving roads, it will spell doom for Tonganoxie's growth.
Just look at the problems Lawrence has, for example, with 23rd Street. It's a nightmare that city officials there have struggled with for years -- and there appears to be no clear-cut solution. If the city of Lawrence had planned for growth, rather than allowing it to overtake 23rd Street, motorists wouldn't be cutting through residential neighborhoods in an effort to avoid the mess that 23rd Street has become.
In southern Leavenworth County, both 24-40 and K-7 could become our own versions of Lawrence's 23rd Street. Who wants to deal with stop and go traffic? Who wants to be stalled in a line of vehicles, bumper-to-bumper? Who wants to spend 20 or 30 minutes traveling to Basehor -- a trip that now takes less than 10 minutes?
Good transportation also is important to expanding business and industry in Tonganoxie, a benefit to all in the community. The three most important points for a business are location, location, location. And no location that is frustrating to drive to could possibly be consider a good location.
City officials are encouraging all local residents and business owners to play an active role in determining the future of area highways.
And city officials are right.
Tonganoxie residents must stay focused on improving transportation to the city. That's why a planned interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie is so important to the city, and that's why ensuring existing highways -- such as K-7 and 24-40 -- are effective and efficient is so important to the city.