Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Commissioners envision turnpike access south of Tonganoxie

January 27, 2005

— Leavenworth County could begin work in the next few years building a road that would link to an interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie.

Of course, many components of a puzzle must fall into place, including voter approval of the extension of the county's one-cent sales tax.

County commissioners on Wednesday outlined their priorities for spending receipts from the tax - if voters in the April 5 general election OK the sales tax for another 10-year term.

Atop the list: Construction of a "supporting road system" for a new interchange in Leavenworth County on the turnpike.

According to Dean Oroke, county commissioner from Tonganoxie, the commission met Tuesday with turnpike officials, who said they would require the county to build a highway between U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 32 to link into the proposed interchange. And Oroke said there's support on the three-member county commission for construction of such a road - whether it's along the existing County Road 1 alignment or along another route.

In 1999, a study showed that an interchange along the turnpike would prove economically feasible for the KTA.

"It appeared feasible then, and they're also sure it would be feasible today," Oroke said after Tuesday's meeting. "They want to recoup their expenses (from building the interchange) in a reasonable amount of time."

The turnpike's only income is through fees charged to those drivers who use the road.

"They would want a commitment on behalf of the county that we would build a modern highway to that site, possibly on County Road 1," Oroke said.

The route, if County Road 1 is used, would be 5.8 miles, Oroke said. He said a total of 22 homes and five outbuildings currently are on that stretch of the county road.

"You wouldn't have to displace all of those," he said.

Although the cost of a new road is not clear, Oroke said he believes the county could finance it with proceeds from the sales tax, and by perhaps reallocating funds earmarked for other road projects.

If county voters approve the sales tax extension, he said, the county would begin receiving revenue in 2007 that could help finance the road. The estimated county-only revenue for 2004 from the existing one-cent sales tax, which is set to expire in 2006, was about $2.3 million. Cities in the county also benefit from the sales tax, which was initiated to finance construction of the Justice Center in Leavenworth.

Leavenworth County Commissioner have five priorities for spending county sales tax funds if voters renew the tax in April. The projects are:

Construction of the supporting road system for a new interchange in Leavenworth County on the Kansas Turnpike.

The improvement of the arterial road and bridge system between the cities of Leavenworth and Tonganoxie.

The improvement of County Road No. 8 from K-7/U.S.-73 westward to County Road No. 5.

The support of an enhanced communication system for local emergency responders.

Additional road improvement projects as may be identified

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