Archive for Thursday, April 27, 2006

Upcoming study to shape future of 24-40 highway

April 27, 2006

Smooth sailing calls for concise planning.

That's why officials soon will select a firm to study U.S. Highway 24-40 from Kansas Highway 7 east of Basehor to County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie.

The 24-40 corridor is a four-lane highway linking southern Leavenworth County to the Kansas City area.

Only three stoplights -- two in Tonganoxie and one in Basehor -- control traffic on the 10-mile stretch.

Darryl Fields, the Mid-America Regional Council's project manager of the 24-40 corridor study, said he's working with Leavenworth County and the cities of Basehor and Tonganoxie, as well as the Kansas Department of Transportation, on the study.

Basically, Fields said, it will address this question: "What do we need to do to keep 24-40 a smooth corridor and still provide impetus to promote economic development?"

Officials say this is a critical traffic corridor where land alongside the road is likely to undergo intense development -- which leads to even more traffic.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke noted the study will look at a two-mile wide swath of land along the corridor -- or a mile on each side of 24-40. Oroke said, if development -- and corridor access roads -- are not controlled, studies predict that by the year 2030 it will take 12 minutes longer to drive from Tonganoxie to Basehor on 24-40.

And, according to Fields, the study will consider the proposed construction of a turnpike interchange on Leavenworth County Road 1.

"What we're looking at is, since there's been a lot of growth in the area and this (study) is in conjunction with the idea that KTA (Kansas Turnpike Authority) is going to open an interchange on I-70, is what's going to happen with the corridor on U.S. 24-40," Fields said.

Study to include citizens' input

Fields said these firms submitted bids: Wilbur Smith, Lee's Summit; HNTB Overland Park; Cook Flatt and Strobel, Kansas City, Mo.; Parsons Brinckerhoff, Quade and Douglas, Lenexa; HDR Kansas City, Mo.; and Bucher Willis and Ratliff, Kansas City, Mo.

The bids ranged from $249,000 to $307,000. The study's budget is $250,000, Fields said.

Members of the consultant selection team will narrow the six bidders to three and then, after hearing formal presentations, will make a selection. Fields said it was likely a consulting firm would be decided the first week in June.

Members of the selection team include:

Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez and city council member Velda Roberts; Basehor City Administrator Carl Slaugh; Leavenworth County Commissioners Dean Oroke, Clyde Graeber and Don Navinsky, and Chris Dunn, the county's director of planning and zoning; KDOT employees Kristi Pyle, traffic engineering, and Rene Hart, transportation planning; Chris Donnelly of Leavenworth County Development Corporation; and Darryl Fields of Mid America Regional Council.

It's easier, Fields said, to do this type of planning in the early stages of development, rather than after major development has occurred.

Though it's important to select the right consultant team, Fields said the public's input is important as well. "This whole process is greatly public-driven," Fields said, "It can't be done in a vacuum. The voting public are the people that use it on an every-day basis, so their input is the most important thing."

Fields said at least four public meetings will be held during the consultant's yearlong study. There will be a kickoff meeting this summer. And the meetings, which will be held in the Basehor/Tonganoxie area, will easily accessible to corridor residents.

"The citizens who live along the corridor will drive the meeting and they will drive the study," Fields said.

Leavenworth County's chief planner, Chris Dunn, said this was an important step.

"It's really pretty exciting," Dunn said. "This is going to be a major growth area of the county and we want to make sure we do it right."

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