Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Signal changes in plans for 24-40

July 11, 2007

The results of more than a year of deliberation among local residents, as well as city, county and state officials, regarding the future of the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor will be on display a final time Thursday.

An open house for the corridor study's master plan is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center on the Tonganoxie High School campus.

The study, which is a 30-year master plan for the corridor -- from Kansas Highway 7 west through Basehor to just south of Tonganoxie -- was designed to guide local officials in future growth along the highway.

The first open house was in March in Basehor and produced plenty of feedback about the study. Additional input from Tonganoxie and Basehor city officials has moved Bucher, Willis and Ratliff, a Kansas City planning firm that's conducting the study, to make some alterations.

"What we heard back was that they really didn't want to see signals propagated all along the corridor," said Charlie Schwinger of BWR.

Basehor City Administrator Carl Slaugh said access management has been the main concern -- in other words, where will traffic lights and intersections be placed in the future.

After meetings with residents and business owners, the Basehor City Council and Planning Commission found that four intersections could hold traffic lights in the future: 142nd, 150th, 158th and 166th streets. Each is a mile apart from the next, which Slaugh said was the ideal spacing for efficient traffic flow. Not in the mix is 155th Street -- currently the city's main intersection, which also holds its lone traffic signal.

Basehor officials say it's not feasible to take out the signal at and build an additional frontage road to the north of the highway at 155th Street, although a frontage road already exists south of the highway in the Pinehurst development.

"Because it's just not practical to take out a signal light that is your major intersection," Slaugh said.

From surveys of residents, the study shows that 84 percent stated that future streets crossing the highway should be limited so that traffic should flow as it does today.

Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez said the study has addressed those issues.

"Considering that a high percentage of people have responded that they felt traffic safety was the priority, I feel that the recommendations in the study will meet those concerns," Yanez said. "Politically, it will be tough, because it establishes policies to be enforced that are going to cause people and merchants to accept transportation measures that will change their level of convenience as they now have it.

Thursday's open house will consist of a formal presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

The project team for the study includes officials from Mid-America Regional Council, the Kansas Department of Transportation, Leavenworth County and the cities of Tonganoxie and Basehor.

Schwinger said it's hoped Bucher Willis and Ratliff would be finished with the study in August. After that, project team officials will continue to meet periodically to discuss future plans for the corridor.

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