Plan in the works for K-7 Highway
Cities along Kansas Highway 7 have varying interests and with the future of the highway in limbo, the Kansas Department of Transportation is initiating a project to complete a master plan for the corridor.
That process will begin by hiring an engineering firm to complete a study of K-7.
A decision on what firm will conduct the study won't be made until spring or early summer, said Joe Blubaugh, department of transportation public information officer.
"We don't want to duplicate the previous study," Blubaugh said. "It'll probably be something more like 'here is one solution.'"
A previous study of the highway, which took into account existing traffic figures and projected traffic counts 20 years down the road, hinted strongly that K-7 should develop as a freeway in the future.
Smaller cities along the highway such as Basehor and Bonner Springs disagreed with the study. Turning K-7 into a freeway would be disastrous for economic development, officials in both cities contend.
On the other hand, cities such as Shawnee and Lansing need a highway which compliments their existing and future developments while moving traffic quickly.
"Not all communities want a freeway," Blubaugh said. "They want some variety for their communities. We understand that.
"We know the highway is not going to function the same from one end to the other," he added.
The K-7 study will be broken into three sections. Ideally, the plan for each section will highlight the needs of the nearby communities.
The three sections are:
- Section I represents K-7 from the Miami-Johnson County line north to Interstate 35.
- Section II runs from Shawnee Mission Parkway north to Interstate 70.
- Section III includes K-7 between Interstate 70 and East Mary Street in Lansing.
A section from I-35 to Shawnee Mission Parkway was not included, because K-7 already functions as an urban street from I-35 to 119th Street, and the part from 119th Street to Shawnee Mission Parkway already functions as a freeway (except for 75th Street), and no changes to either section are likely, transportation department officials said.
In a letter released to cities earlier this month, Deb Miller, Kansas secretary of transportation, highlighted the importance of the corridor study.
"Absent that corridor plan, KDOT will be forced to make decisions on an ad hoc basis that communities may or may not find advantageous to their development viewpoint," Miller wrote.
"Developing this master plan must be a collaborative effort between KDOT and the communities along the corridor. Without your participation, the master plan won't be effective and can't be enforced."