Delegation lobbies for federal dollars
By all accounts, last week's trip to Washington, D.C., by Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County officials was worthwhile.
"We left with a good feeling," said Tonganoxie's city administrator, Mike Yanez.
A delegation that also included City Council member Jason Ward lobbied federal officials in hopes of securing funding for improvements to County Road 1. That road will connect U.S. Highway 24-40 south of Tonganoxie to a planned turnpike interchange.
"They all seemed to agree the County Road 1 project had considerable regional merit," Yanez said of reactions from congressmen and their staffs.
The delegation hopes Congress will provide $5 million to help with the estimated $16 million in road improvements. The county will contribute about $8 million, while the city has agreed to consider spending up to $2.8 million, if certain conditions are met.
"Nothing critical was said about it," Yanez said. "At the same time, they gave us the caveat speech: We don't know how much money we're going to have, the budget's in trouble."
County Commissioner Dean Oroke said county officials would continue to be in touch with federal officials about the project, in hopes it will be included in the upcoming federal budget.
"Now, when we make phone calls, they can relate the faces," Oroke said.
The information that the delegation supplied to federal officials included letters of support for the project from the cities of Eudora, Linwood, McLouth, Baldwin, as well as Douglas and Jefferson counties.
Leavenworth County Road 1 heads south from 24-40, crosses the turnpike and Kansas Highway 32. Then it crosses the Kansas River before connecting with Douglas County Road 1061 -- which runs down Eudora's Main Street. It's not clear how much increase in traffic Eudora would see from construction of a turnpike interchange. But it makes sense that a road might be necessary to take traffic around Eudora and to Kansas Highway 10, said Douglas County engineer Keith Browning.
"In my mind, there would have to be at some point," said Browning, who is Douglas County public works director. "I don't know that there would need to be initially, as soon as that interchange is open. But in my mind there ought to be a way to get around Eudora. And I think both for the people of Eudora and the traveling public, it would be better if there were a route around there."
But Browning emphasized no plans are in place -- and there aren't even plans to make plans.
"It all depends on what kind of traffic we're talking about," he said.