Archive for Thursday, October 16, 2003

Area cities focus on K-7 corridor

October 16, 2003

Local leaders representing Basehor and Bonner Springs met Wednesday morning at Bonner Springs City Hall to discuss the future of the Kansas Highway 7 corridor.

State Rep. Ray Cox, R-Bonner Springs, whose 39th District covers both cities, attended the Wednesday morning meeting as did representatives from the Leavenworth County Commission and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

Department of Transportation officials were not called to the meeting.

Bonner Springs mayor Clausie Smith said the meeting was called to "make sure everybody is on the same page," and would help area representatives "present a uniform front," when meeting with the Kansas Department of Transportation to discuss the future of the corridor.

The highway needs of Basehor and Bonner Springs are much the same, the mayor said.

"I can't imagine that they're not aligned," Smith said.

Both cities are searching for access from the highway into current and future developments. The highway provides attractive exposure for businesses and stimulates economic prosperity through property and sales taxes.

The highway and more importantly, access to it, is an important ingredient for the long-term growth of Basehor and Bonner Springs, city officials contend.

The needs of the cities falls in contrast with plans the department of transportation has considered for the corridor. KDOT has discussed renovating the highway to accommodate for future traffic numbers by building interchanges and limiting access points to keep traffic flowing.

Joe Blubaugh, KDOT public affairs officer, said transportation officials have not made any plans for the highway and are working toward a solution that would be beneficial to all parties.

"We realize there are some different goals for municipalities up and down the highway," Blubaugh said."This corridor is important to the state and important to the municipalities," he added. "We want to come up with a plan that best suits everyone and there's a lot of contributing factors in doing that."

Cox, who along with Smith, led the charge to round up representatives for the meeting, said the discussion is the beginning step toward resolving the highway problems.

"We're not there yet," Cox said. "Today was a start."

Area representatives will sit down with officials from the department of transportation during a meeting Nov. 4 at the KDOT office in Bonner Springs.

Blubaugh said the meeting is preliminary but will give all cities "a chance to sit down and talk about all the information and all the issues we're facing."

The cities attending the Wednesday morning meeting are expected to discuss each other's plans for the highway before the Nov. 4 meeting with KDOT, Cox said. Those plans will be forwarded to KDOT before Nov. 4 because "there will be a lot of people there, a lot of ideas and we don't want to get lost in the shuffle," he added.

If the integrity of the highway is to be preserved to benefit Basehor and Bonner Springs, more cooperation like Wednesday will be necessary, the state representative said.

"The great thing about it is that neighbors sat around a table working together," Cox said. "That's the way it's got be if we want to get anything done."

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