Land acquisition nears for CR1 project
County, Turnpike Authority still have issues to iron out for interchange
Leavenworth County and the Kansas Turnpike Authority are approaching the land-acquisition stage in their quest to build a turnpike interchange south of Tonganoxie.
Public Works Deputy director Mike Spickelmier told the Leavenworth County Commission on Thursday that after field checks in June and July, the right-of-way acquisition process can begin shortly for property along County Road 1, leading to the proposed interchange with Interstate 70.
The interchange will give Leavenworth County its first direct access to the federal interstate highway system.
The estimated $12.96 million project is to be funded in part by county sales tax revenues, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and by a $500,000 federal earmark.
On Thursday, commissioners and turnpike engineer Rex Fleming cleared up where the Turnpike Authority's responsibility lies in the land acquisition process.
Commissioner Clyde Graeber asked how design changes -- from a trumpet to a diamond interchange -- affected the KTA's responsibility and what it would mean to local landowners.
Fleming responded that the KTA would acquire necessary land from the northern limit of the diamond to its southern limit.
"Basically the acquisition costs (there) are ours," Fleming said.
He told the board the change slightly reduces the amount of right-of-way northwest of the interchange where Tailgate Ranch lies, but said, "All in all it's a smaller footprint and requires less right-of-way to be acquired."
Spickelmier said that the county is ready to begin negotiating right of way for the remaining five or so miles of County Road 1, excluding the "northern portal," where it is yet to be decided where a tie-in to U.S. Highway 24-40 will go.
The Kansas Department of Transportation has unofficially requested that the access point go just south of Honey Creek Road at an estimated $625,000, Spickelmier said in an Aug. 16 meeting
The board's chairman,J.C. Tellefson asked why a direct connection with Kansas Avenue was not possible, and Commissioner Dean Oroke responded, "There's no way you're going to make that corner safe under the way it exists today."
Oroke maintained Thursday that the best point for a tie-in with U.S. 24-40 was north of Honey Creek Road near the Heartland Community Church of the Nazarene.
Tellefson said safety on the road was his number-one concern but added, "One thing I consider in this project is cost, and I don't want to see it increase. ... It costs us way too much money to change the plans once we have set the plans."
Graeber agreed but said, "If KDOT believes they are contributing by their design a safer road, I would agree with that."
Spickelmier anticipated a meeting with KDOT officials in the next two weeks.
Oroke said he was confident everything would be "negotiable" at the meeting.
In the interim, the county can begin moving forward with the right-of-way acquisition process in areas unaffected by realignment, County Counselor David Van Parys said.
A proposal from Leawood-based Right of Way Associates estimates the cost of appraisal and acquisition services, based upon 58 tracts, at no more than $81,200.
Oroke said Thursday, however, that some landowners -- like Ralph Lewis, the developer for Tailgate Ranch -- have agreed to donate right-of-way to the county, so those cost projections could be inaccurate.