Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2005

County to review turnpike access routes

September 7, 2005

Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez isn't worried about the possibility of a flood plain along County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie.

The road has been debated as one of possibly two routes for a turnpike access road in southern Leavenworth County. Tonganoxie officials are lobbying for a route along County Road 1 that meets U.S. Highway 24-40 near Honey Creek Road, which is south of Tonganoxie.

Last week, County Commissioner Dean Oroke said it was possible that land at the northeast corner of County Road 1 and Hemphill Road -- a 238-acre estate property -- was in a flood plain. Yanez, however, said that shouldn't be a concern. According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency insurance rate map, the area in question is in a 100-year flood plain.

According to the FEMA Web site, www.fema.gov, a "100-year flood" means a flood elevation has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year.

"The magnitude of a flood plain on that property should not be that much of a concern," Yanez said.

The property, which does have a small creek running through a portion of it, is owned by the estate of Julius Leighty.

Last week, Yanez received a letter from First State Bank and Trust, which is representing the property, stating that the trustees of the Julius Leighty estate have asked that the land be voluntarily annexed into the city if the County Road 1 option is picked.

Early last month, Paul and Elizabeth McKie asked that their Tailgate Ranch be voluntarily annexed into the city if County Road 1 is used as the access route.

Tailgate Ranch encompasses more than 2,000 acres south of Tonganoxie past the turnpike on the east side of County Road 1.

There is one area along the east side of County Road 1 in that stretch that is not owned by the McKies -- the Leighty estate.

County commissioners also are evaluating a potential route that would move cross-country in a diagonal manner from 24-40, a half-mile south of Honey Creek Road, southeast to a turnpike interchange that would be built near the turnpike where County Road 1 currently is bridged over the turnpike.

Although the county commission has not publicly said which route it prefers, commissioner Don Navinsky has been the most vocal, while commissioner Clyde Graeber has not voiced an opinion. Oroke said little about which road he favored, until an interview last week with The Mirror when he voiced concerns about the County Road 1 route.

Tonganoxie officials prefer that the access road come down County Road 1. Yanez has said that although the County Road 1 route could be more expensive, in the long run it would be "the right road."

City officials contend that with land being voluntarily annexed into the city, the large area could be developed, both as residential and commercial land with frontage roads to keep traffic moving.

Navinsky, however, has said he worries development could congest the road, as is the case on Kansas Highway 7 through Lansing and Leavenworth.

On Thursday, Yanez said he hopes the commission chooses the County Road 1 option, but has been "discouraged" so far.

"Their vision doesn't match up with what the city of Tonganoxie's vision is," Yanez said. "We're looking at a good road with development. They're just focusing on a good road."

HNTB, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm, will present exhibits of the two potential routes to the County Commission at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Leavenworth.

The firm also will list pros and cons of the two possible routes. From that meeting, Barb Andersen, HNTB project manager, said the firm hopes to select a preferred alternative that can be analyzed further to develop a cost estimate.

Andersen said the final report should be ready at the end of this month.

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