County to discuss interchange
Discussion regarding the Interstate 70 Interchange Project will commence at 2:30 p.m. today in the Leavenworth County Courthouse.
Commissioners Clyde Graeber and J.C. Tellefson said after Tuesday's session that they hoped to get into an in-depth discussion of the scope, size and available funding for the project, and they hoped to have an opportunity to hear concerns voiced by the community in a calm interaction.
Commissioner Dean Oroke will return from Washington, D.C., with word of possible federal funding for the project, which would open an interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie on County Road 1.
The Kansas Turnpike Authority recently reaffirmed its commitment to the project but wants the Leavenworth County Commission to do the same, including the upgrading of the County Road 1 approach to the proposed interchange.
Thus far, funding for improving the six miles of County Road 1 from just south of Tonganoxie to Kansas Highway 32 is not in place. The county has committed $8 million in sales tax revenues, while the Kansas Turnpike Authority has said it would kick in $2 million of the cost in addition to the $8.5 million it will pay to construct the interchange.
An estimate he unveiled earlier this year put the total cost of improving County Road 1 at $12.96 million.
Officials with the city of Tonganoxie have offered to spend $1 million in city sales tax revenue - at a rate of $100,000 a year for 10 years - but that hasn't been finalized in writing.
The undertaking, which is supposed to spur economic development, has received criticism from some residents along County Road 1.
Tellefson said he looked forward to listening to people's concerns Thursday and added that the interchange and renovations planned for County Road 1 "are a good step toward defending (Leavenworth County's) rural heritage, developing economically, and enhancing the tax base."