Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Study mapping out 24-40’s future

June 7, 2007

With the U.S Highway 24-40 Corridor Study nearing completion, area officials and representatives with the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Mid-America Regional Council are about ready to make some decisions on the findings they have uncovered.

The study was tasked with developing a 30-year plan for land use and transportation integration in a two-mile wide stretch of U.S. 24-40, running east from County Road 1, through Tonganoxie and Basehor, to Kansas Highway 7.

On Thursday, May 31, Leavenworth County Commissioners met with KDOT corridor engineer Chris Huffman to determine what changes will be made to U.S. 24-40 to facilitate economic growth in a well-managed, safe manner.

Huffman said determining proper land use and constructing proper infrastructure go hand in hand.

The factor that connects the two?

"Access," he said.

According to Huffman, U.S. 24-40 is and always will be an expressway and was never intended to have the interchanges and the on- and off-ramps that typically accompany a freeway.

"This is partly due to the fact that it runs parallel to Interstate 70," he said.

One of the major findings of the corridor study was that 84 percent of residents surveyed said "new streets that cross US 24/40 highway in the future should be limited so that traffic can continue to flow much as it does today."

Huffman gave two reasons for keeping access on U.S. 24-40 limited.

First, he said, the number of commercial and residential driveways along a given expressway is related to the number of accidents on that road. With slow-moving vehicles entering traffic on a 65 mile-per-hour road, the associated costs of access related crashes is high. Collisions on these types of roads are mostly dangerous driver-side or passenger-side impacts, or "T-bone" collisions, Huffman said.

As expected, a high percentage of residents surveyed were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about their safety on U.S. 24-40.

Another concern expressed, though, was keeping traffic moving at an appropriate speed.

"There's a clear economic value for time spent : getting from point A to point B," Huffman said. "We want to keep traffic moving as quickly as possible."

That means taking steps now to plan where frontage roads, traffic signals and turn lanes might go, said Chris Dunn, Planning and Zoning director.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson likened potential access on 24-40 to access into Lansing's Towne Center Development, where a frontage road leads to entrances and exits on Mary and Ida streets.

"You can stop and shop if you want, or you can go right through," Tellefson said.

Huffman said the amount of planning and cooperation between county municipalities and KDOT will dictate if U.S. 24-40 will become a 135th Street in Overland Park or a Belt Highway in St. Joseph, Mo., where, Dunn said, "everyone gets a driveway."

"We're talking about heart bypass surgery or angioplasty for blockages," Huffman said. "Both take time, are expensive and painful."

In taking a more preventative instead of a reactive approach, Huffman anticipated full access at the intersections of U.S. 24-40 and County Road 1, Fourth Street, Main Street, Laming Road, 206th Street, 182nd Street, 174th Street, 166th Street, 158th Street (or possibly 155th Street), 147th Street and 142nd Street.

One step remaining in the 24-40 Corridor Study is a final open house tentatively scheduled in July for anyone wanting more information about the project.

In other business Thursday, the commission:

¢ Met with Emergency Medical Services director Jamie Miller to review plans for a new EMS station at 16th Street and Metropolitan Avenue. In particular, the commission requested that Miller limit the number of bays in the new facility.

Miller said that a limitation would not allow for growth in the department.

"Growth would come with the location on Eisenhower," Commissioner Clyde Graeber said.

A location for a main EMS station on Eisenhower Road has not yet been determined.

¢ Approved, 3-0, a three-year lease for a bulldozer to be used by the Public Works Department. The vehicle and certain upgrades including a new paint job, air conditioning, engine enclosures and an enclosed cab will cost up to $117,500.

Public Works director Bill Green also had his request to replace a blown head gasket on a department dump truck unanimously approved by the commission. That repair will cost $5,200.

¢ Signed a form required by the Kansas Department of Agriculture recognizing John Behne as the noxious weeds supervisor for Leavenworth County and approved release of the annual noxious weed management plan to KDA.

¢ Discussed making adjustments to all exterior doors at the county courthouse. Options weighed included adding a tension rod or a kick plate to keep the doors from sticking.

"It's a unique situation trying to keep the historical aspect of the building but at the same time modernizing it," said a representative with Feyerham Construction.

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