Archive for Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Growth demands taking a broader view

October 5, 2005

Last week, a Lawrence city commissioner suggested it would make sense to construct a bridge over the Kansas River east of Lawrence.

But David Schauner's idea was shot down as "nonsense" by a Douglas County commissioner, who said such a bridge sounded more like a hallucination than a vision, partly because of its $150 million price tag. The county commissioner also said Schauner's idea was a diversionary tactic, one designed to scuttle construction of the final leg of a controversial southern bypass around Lawrence.

That may be true.

But, even if it is true, Schauner's bridge idea does bring up a valid point.

He sees a new bridge as a direct link between the Kansas Turnpike and Kansas Highway 10.

While Schauner is talking about his idea for a direct link in Douglas County, Leavenworth County is working to provide a direct link between U.S. Highway 24-40 and the turnpike.

And Schauner's idea underscores the importance of city, county and state officials working together on road projects -- rather than operating in a vacuum.

As Leavenworth County and Tonganoxie officials scuffle over the best way to link 24-40 highway with a proposed interchange on the Kansas Turnpike, one has to wonder whether any of these officials has talked with their counterparts in Douglas County and Lawrence.

After all, the interchange site is only about six miles north of Eudora, a Douglas County town. And it is just six miles east of the East Lawrence turnpike interchange.

That's less than the distance from Tonganoxie to Basehor.

Both counties -- and the cities in both counties -- have an interest in this interchange and the larger northeast Kansas road network.

This area of the state is growing at an amazing clip. And as agricultural land in northeast Kansas continues to go the way of housing developments, construction of new roads and the improvement of existing ones will become increasingly important.

As Leavenworth and Douglas counties continue to develop and as homes continue to dot the countryside, the demand for a better road system will increase.

Even though the two counties are separated by the Kansas River, each should have a keen interest in what the other does. And, like all good neighbors, they should be talking with each other.

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