Archive for Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Highway study to focus on impact of development

November 16, 2005

A study of the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor appears to be closer to reality, following a Leavenworth County Commission meeting last Thursday.

The study is estimated to cost $250,000, according to Chris Huffman of the Kansas Department of Transportation. KDOT officials earlier this year said the study's purpose would be to set long-term goals for the highway.

Because of increased development along the highway, local and state officials have voiced concern about how traffic will flow along the highway as commercial and residential development continues.

In February, KDOT spokesman Joe Blubaugh said KDOT envisions one traffic signal per mile along the highway, with right turn-in, right turn-out access points every half-mile.

The study would be funded by KDOT, the Mid-America Regional Council, Leavenworth County and the cities of Tonganoxie and Basehor.

County commissioners approved a measure defining the study's scope as being from the intersection of U.S. 24-40 and Kansas Highway 7 west along 24-40 to about a mile south of Tonganoxie -- where U.S. 24-40 would intersect with a connecting road to the turnpike. The county is looking to build a connecting road from U.S. 24-40 south to the turnpike, starting near County Road 1.

The scope of the 24-40 study also would include a mile on both sides of the road.

Discussions of a U.S. 24-40 corridor study were sparked after a similar study was initiated last year for a 22-mile stretch of Kansas Highway 7. For the K-7 corridor, discussion has centered on whether the road should be renovated as a six-lane freeway or an arterial urban road.

The Mid-America Regional Council, a governmental planning organization for the Kansas City area, was named the sponsor agency for the study, meaning MARC would take the lead in organizing the 24-40 study.

Although actual costs of the project are not known, Leavenworth County Commissioner Don Navinsky suggested Thursday that the county pay $30,000 of the cost.

"I'm just throwing a number out there," Navinsky said. "That's probably about our maximum."

MARC pledged $20,000, while Tonganoxie and Basehor were looking at $10,000 each.

Tonganoxie City Council members Velda Roberts and Jim Truesdell, as well as Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia, agreed that those were reasonable amounts. KDOT would be responsible for about $180,000.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he understood in earlier discussions that the study could cost as much as $800,000, "which put me in a slight cardiac arrest," Graeber said.

Graeber later said the study was important for the future of the corridor.

"We feel we need this," Graeber said. "It would be something that would be advantageous."

Garcia asked that the study extend an additional mile north into Basehor at 155th Street because the city is developing to the north, as well as along U.S. 24-40.

Graeber, however, did not think it was relevant to the study.

"We're only looking at 24-40 and the impact that has," Graeber said.

Although the commissioners did not approve the additional study area, they reached an agreement with Garcia that the additional study area, if Basehor officials approve it, would be included as an addendum to the scope. Basehor would be responsible for the costs of that additional study area.

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