Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Council to ponder KDOT’s K-7 offer

April 11, 2012

The Bonner Springs City Council Monday tabled a continuing discussion to fight the state’s plans for a freeway along Kansas Highway 7, but they learned the state has responded to news that they were protesting the plans.

In a workshop prior to its regular meeting, the council briefly discussed the move to change its Memorandum of Understanding with the state regarding K-7, as well as a related project to synchronize traffic lights along the highway. They learned the state has offered to partially fund the construction of another city street to help mitigate concerns about accessibility to Bonner businesses.

John Helin, city manager, said this development was “interesting and significant enough” that, with only five council members present for the workshop, the council should table discussion of changes to its MOU.

“This is an interesting twist, and I want to make sure you’ve heard it, been able to ask some questions and think about it,” Helin said.

Two weeks ago, with the city of Olathe announcing it no longer supported the freeway concept from Leavenworth to Olathe, the council asked staff to draft a change to its MOU, asking that the state leave traffic signals rather than interchanges at Kansas Avenue, Canaan Center and 130th Street after it created new ramps for the interchange with Interstate 70.

The council noted that interchanges allowing highway traffic to zip through the city likely would hurt its businesses.

The option that the Kansas Department of Transportation offer to Helin in response? Partially fund construction of Nettleton Avenue from K-7 north to Kansas Avenue, behind the Walmart, as a part of the . When the city previously studied the option due to an economic development prospect in the area, it had estimated the road would cost $4.9 million.

Helin said putting Nettleton through would allow KDOT to reroute traffic on the street during construction of an interchange at Kansas Avenue and actually save the state money, as it wouldn’t have to carefully shift traffic through the middle of the project.

While Helin said the offer of Nettleton was a nice carrot to dangle in the hope that the city wouldn’t change its MOU, he wasn’t sure it truly addressed the city’s concerns.

The council also discussed an effort to synchronize the existing traffic signals on K-7 with Operation Green Light.

Kevin Bruemmer, public works director, said when the council first indicated its support, the cost to the city was $1,055 per year. With some changes to the program, the cost for the first two years now is going to be $2,650 annually before reducing to $1,055.

Council member Jeff Harrington, who had voiced some opposition when the matter first was discussed, said an increase in cost also increased his doubts.

“It seems like a big expense for the small amount of benefit,” he said. “I don’t see the citizens of Bonner Springs benefiting… I think the biggest benefitter is KDOT at our expense.”

Helin said he thought all users of K-7 would benefit, and synchronization also would be important if the city decides to move forward with a fight against the freeway concept. Because so much of the situation is up in the air, even if the city moves forward in the project for now, it still has time to back out.

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