Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2005

K-10 exit reconsidered

February 10, 2005

Hoping to prevent excessive traffic on Church Street from Kansas Highway 10 as the community grows, the city of Eudora and partners might consider creating a new K-10 interchange.

The proposed interchange would likely be in the area of Winchester Road, west of the other two interchanges already leading into the city from K-10.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said a proposal would be made to the Eudora City Council suggesting that the city pay half the cost to commission a study of the area. Yanez said the study was estimated to cost about $14,000 based on a bid from the city's engineering firm, BG Consultants.

If the city OKs the study, developer Tom Horner and the Eudora United Methodist Church would pledge the remaining funds. Yanez said each had offered to pay 25 percent toward the study because both parties own land near the highway and want to know how to proceed with plans.

"They both own property adjacent to Winchester Road and K-10," Yanez said. "They want to get an idea of where the interchanges fit into their land parcels as they consider their development plans."

In a statement to the City Council, to be presented at the Council's next meeting, Yanez said the city would have to foot the bill for a new interchange because the Kansas Department of Transportation has not shown any interest in funding the proposal.

"In recent years, the city has advocated to the Kansas Department of Transportation to allow for and construct an interchange on K-10 Highway at Winchester Road," he said in the statement. "To date, the city's advocacy has not met with positive reception from the state agency."

Yanez said such interchanges had been incorporated in KDOT's conceptual design of K-10 improvements, but that the department chose not to fund or make plans for the Winchester interchange that was proposed by Eudora, because of funding constraints.

KDOT recently completed a study of K-10 from Lawrence to Olathe, which determined the department would not be in a position to fund another Eudora interchange. KDOT Director of Planning and Development Terry Heidner said the study would be published within the next few weeks.

"Primarily, we don't have any money, certainly between now and 2009, to add any projects like this," Heidner said. "And furthermore, additional access points along K-10 are not a high priority for KDOT. We certainly understand, however, that it may be a priority for other people, local

governments like Eudora, and are certainly willing to work with the local governments."

Heidner said there would be some concern about building an interchange too close to existing interchanges.

"There are certainly operational concerns with adding interchanges spaced too closely," he said. "Those concerns can translate into either reduced efficiency for the mainline highway and how well it handles traffic, as well as safety issues."

Heidner said funding responsibilities would be left to the city, if Eudora planners decided to go ahead with the project.

Firm financial figures will not be determined until after the new study is completed, but Heidner said the cost for the project would be in the millions.

Yanez said the study could begin as soon as the council approved it. He said local leaders and residents have shown interest in having an additional interchange.

"From the city leaders I have talked to, our planning commission and our city council, as well as from the public dialog in putting together the comprehensive plan, it's been indicated that there is a considerable amount of public interest," he said.

Yanez said the interchange was worth supporting because there was public interest, it would create an alternative to using Church Street to come into town, and there would be benefits from development in the Winchester Road area.

In his statement, Yanez said some of the reasons to support the interchange were "the benefits of future development in the area that will escalate the community's overall property valuation, creation of new jobs at new commercial outlets, an increase in sales tax collections from new commercial outlets, escalation of value of the properties in the area for tax purposes and the increase in local economic activity from construction of new business and residential structures."

Yanez will submit the proposal to commission the highway study at the Council's meeting Monday at City Hall.

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