Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2008

Upcoming CR1 construction causes traffic route concerns

January 3, 2008

Residents may have to make alternate travel arrangements for what could be more than two years as construction work to improve County Road 1 south of Kansas Avenue to Kansas Highway 32 begins.

As of Jan. 2, the bridge leading over the Kansas Turnpike on County Road 1 is officially closed as construction begins to make the bridge compatible for a new interchange on the Kansas Turnpike.

"It's definitely going to be an inconvenience to the travelers, but our major concern of course is with emergency-response issues," said Chuck Magaha, emergency management director for Leavenworth County.

Magaha said he has been working closely with the fire chiefs and with the Kansas Turnpike Authority to create a plan to minimize the amount of time needed to respond to the scene of an emergency.

"We are going to have a list of addresses north and south of the turnpike," Magaha said. "They will be cued into the 911 system so when they call, it will go to a different responder."

Lawrence Torneden, fire chief for the Reno Township Fire Department, said his concern was not with the time needed to get to an emergency, but with road conditions.

He fears cars using detours will put more wear and tear on roads that already need maintenance. County engineers told him at last week's meeting that roads such as 238th Street and CR25 will receive the same amount of maintenance as they usually get.

Once actual construction on the road begins, it will be left up to the contractors to leave space available on the road for emergency vehicles to use. Magaha said he wanted to sit down with the contractor to work out a plan for emergency vehicles.

"There's really nothing you can do but bite the bullet and make do the best you can for he duration of the construction project." Torneden said.

While county crews and emergency workers have a plan, many residents in the area will have to come up with their own plan to adjust to the construction.

Right now it takes Bryan Kemp about 6 minutes to get to work in Tonganoxie from his home on CR1 south of the bridge, which he expects that time to double. He said he was for progress on the road, but questioned the cost and burden construction will place on homeowners in the area.

"We're going to be rerouted and substantially imposed on over this thing - it makes no sense to me," Kemp said. "Factoring how much extra money it will cost me in fuel, I'm going to be rerouted 10 miles to get to Tonganoxie. If I take gravel roads, it will cost me another set of tires, plus time. It's a huge imposition."

- Reporter Eric Sorrentino contributed to this report

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