Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Highway study group focuses on future of 24-40

November 15, 2006

In the future, Tonganoxie and Basehor could benefit if the two cities pooled their resources to construct infrastructure projects, such as sewer lines.

That would make sense because the two cities -- in the next 30 years or so -- will grow toward each other. Shared costs could reduce the tax burden for city residents.

At least that was the reasoning among area residents who attended Thursday's U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor study meeting in Basehor.

About 35 area residents, along with Tonganoxie, Basehor and county officials, met in the Basehor-Linwood High School library for the monthly meeting on the U.S. 24-40 study.

When finished, the study is expected to guide Tonganoxie, Basehor and Leavenworth County officials on how to keep traffic moving on the highway, while promoting economic development. Thursday's meeting was another in a series of public meetings organized by the Kansas City planning firm Bucher, Willis and Ratliff. The next meeting will be Dec. 7.

The study focuses on the 13-mile stretch of 24-40 between Kansas Highway 7 and Honey Creek Road, which is just south of Tonganoxie. It also includes a mile of land along both sides of the road.

On Thursday, those attending the meeting separated into three groups to discuss issues facing the corridor, such as land use, development, parks and recreation, design of developments and how feeder roads should be built to access the highway.

Discussion was wide-ranging and even focused on issues such as what type of signs businesses should have along the corridor.

"Do you want a Denny's sign you can see from Basehor and Tonganoxie?" asked Chris Dunn, the county's planning director.

Tonganoxie resident Larry Meadows said his group discussed developing hiking and bike trails, as well as horse trails, near Stranger Creek, which runs between Tonganoxie and Basehor. Meadows also suggested eventually building a pedestrian bridge across Stranger Creek.

Groups also voiced concern about keeping bicycles off the road. Those in attendance suggested construction of bike lanes along the highway -- clear of traffic. In addition, the idea of a light-rail transit system, connecting the corridor to Kansas City and Lawrence, was discussed briefly.

During the workshop, group members also were given small square pieces, which represented industrial, commercial, single-family and multi-family developments. Groups were asked to place those squares on the corridor map where they thought such developments were best for the area.

"Our big concern is that growth come organized out of the cities," Dunn said. "That you don't have something four miles down the road because someone owns that land."

The corridor study is expected to cost between $200,000 and $250,000. KDOT has pledged to finance nearly two-thirds of the project, while MARC will kick in another $20,000. Tonganoxie, Basehor and Leavenworth County will split the remaining tab.

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