KDOT denies K-7 access
Legal counsel from the Kansas Department of Transportation stuck to their guns. So did the Basehor City Council.
Tempers flared at times and little was resolved during a joint meeting between the two sides Thursday, Aug. 7, as officials tried to resolve access problems from the Falcon Lakes development onto Kansas Highway 7. The city also recently annexed another parcel of land, the Zarda property, an 80-acre parcel fronting the highway just east of Falcon Lakes, which adds to the city's concern for highway access.
The crux of the problem is that the state transportation department reneged on a previous commitment to allow Falcon Lakes access and gave permission for the development to construct a $1.4 million access road, Falcon Lakes Parkway. After the road was completed, KDOT mandated it be barricaded.
Neither Falcon Lakes nor the Zarda property has direct access to Kansas Highway 7.
And chances are, they never will, attorneys for the state transportation department said Thursday morning.
"We want to work out a solution without compromising the K-7 corridor," KDOT attorney Sally Howard said. Her reference to maintaining the K-7 corridor revolves around the department's expectation to turn K-7 into a freeway with limited access points. "We really don't see it as consistent with the K-7 corridor."
"What you have to understand is we have larger concerns than (just Falcon Lakes)," state attorney Tim Orrick said.
"We can't allow this one decision to drive our thinking for the whole corridor."
The city's retort?
"I take offense to that because we have the potential for four miles (of development) along K-7," Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said. "(Falcon Lakes Parkway) is the safest road in Leavenworth County and we can't use it. That bothers us."
"You're taking income and taxes away from us."
City Council president Julian Espinoza may have summed up the fate of Falcon Lakes Parkway best.
"Basically, we've been forced into a $3 million cul-de-sac," Espinoza said.
A state study in 2000 indicated K-7 would need upgrades due to an increase in traffic the highway is receiving. The department has yet to receive funding for its K-7 upgrades.
The study, broken down into various segments, indicated 19,400 cars travel K-7 between State Avenue and the northern boundaries of the city of Lansing. By the year 2023, that number could inflate to 39,500 vehicles per day, according to the study.
It's that potentially lucrative highway exposure that Falcon Lakes and Zarda representatives, as well as Basehor city officials, want to receive.
Currently, there are only two points of access into Falcon Lakes and the Zarda property -- Hollingsworth and Donahoo Roads -- neither of which are as attractive as Falcon Lakes Parkway.
The state representatives offered Thursday morning to improve Hollingsworth Road as an alternative.
Funding and construction plans for improving Hollingsworth Road were not discussed during the meeting.