Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2011

KDOT grant offers Basehor $1 million to extend Wolf Creek Parkway

Wolf Creek Parkway currently ends at 155th Street in Basehor, near Casey's General Store, but a grant offer from KDOT could help the city extend it westward to 158th Street as soon as next year.

Wolf Creek Parkway currently ends at 155th Street in Basehor, near Casey's General Store, but a grant offer from KDOT could help the city extend it westward to 158th Street as soon as next year.

February 10, 2011

Basehor motorists may have another way to move east or west through town as soon as next year, if the city takes up the state on an offer to help build a new road.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering the city of Basehor up to $1 million to fund a possible extension of Wolf Creek Parkway to stretch between 155th and 158th streets, KDOT announced last week.

The offer of funding will hinge on the city’s willingness to fund the rest of the cost of the road’s construction, city administrator Mark Loughry said. The construction would probably not begin until spring 2012 at the earliest, he said.

If the Basehor City Council approves the project, it will provide a connection between 155th and 158th streets that would allow Basehor drivers to move between the two streets without using the highway, Loughry said, and also provide access to properties north of the highway in that area.

“From the city’s standpoint, it increases marketable commercial properties,” Loughry said.

But the improvement will still come with a significant price tag for Basehor. The total cost of constructing that stretch of road would probably come to roughly $1.4 million, Loughry said, which would leave the city on the hook for about $400,000.

“Free money is never free,” he said.

The city council will decide whether to accept the grant and take on that cost, probably at its March meeting, Loughry said.

City officials submitted a proposal for the project to KDOT in fall 2010, Loughry said.

Under the proposal, Loughry said, the new road would extend from the spot where Wolf Creek Parkway currently meets 155th, near Casey’s General Store, run behind the Basehor Town Square shops and intersect with 158th just north of Holy-Field Winery.

The proposed project is one of 13 across the state, with a total estimated cost of $7.5 million, for which KDOT announced funding offers Thursday through its Corridor Management Program.

Each of the projects is designed to improve one of the state’s highway corridors, based on corridor studies that have been conducted by KDOT along with about 40 different cities and counties, said Jessica Upchurch, corridor management engineer for KDOT.

One way to improve those corridors is to construct a frontage road running along a corridor, such as Wolf Creek Parkway, that can thin out highway traffic, Upchurch said.

This project resulted from a 2008 study of the 24-40 corridor, she said.

“Development is going to occur along the highway,” Upchurch said. “We understand that, and that’s a great thing for a community like Basehor. We want to make it a safe and efficient way to get to the developments.”

The funds from KDOT would become available in July. If the project moves forward, the city may be able to conduct an engineering study in the fall and begin construction in spring 2012 at the earliest, Loughry said.

But first, the council must decide if the deal would be worth it for Basehor.

“Not every grant is good,” Loughry said. “Some grants you should turn down.”

The council discussed the project briefly at Monday’s work session. Member Iris Dysart expressed doubt about the value of the possible new road.

“I’m glad we’re getting a million dollars. That’s great,” Dysart said. “But to me, we’re spending a million dollars on a road that goes nowhere.”

But council member Jim Washington said the road would complete a loop around U.S. 24-40 stretching between 155th and 158th streets, along with Pinehurst Drive to the south, that would decrease traffic along that stretch of highway and encourage more people to drive by the current and future businesses along those roads.

“This is a godsend,” Washington said. “I wouldn’t question it one bit.”

Mayor Terry Hill said the new road would pave the way for future business development as the economy improves. The city would not have been able to do that on its own anytime soon, he said.

“We have to look out into the future a little bit to see what the benefit is,” Hill said.

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