Archive for Thursday, February 2, 2006

I-70 turnpike project gains city, county support

February 2, 2006

During its Jan. 9 meeting, the Eudora City Council voted to support the efforts of a delegation from the city of Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County scheduled to travel to the nation's capital later this year.

Weeks later, the Douglas County Commission voted to do the same.

The group plans to ask the state's congressional delegation to provide matching federal funds to help complete improvements to a proposed interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie.

The improvements would be in the form of a north-south road connecting US highways 24-40 and Kansas Highway 10. Because the path to K-10 would pass through Eudora ---- connecting Leavenworth County Road 1 with Douglas County Road 1061 ----and would likely increase traffic through Eudora's downtown -- city administrator Cheryl Beatty urged the city council to sign a resolution vowing support of the project.

Beatty and Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle attended meetings with surrounding cities to discuss the implications of the possible roadway.

"It's something that's going to be very important to Eudora," Pyle said. "It's going to bring a lot of traffic in here."

The resolution passed unanimously.

"We are in support of this with other cities and counties in the area, both small towns and large," Pyle said.

Eudora's support came soon after the Tonganoxie City Council passed a resolution in support of the project and the Leavenworth County Commission signaled its own support for the interchange.

"Any time you talk about a transportation corridor route, you talk about additional traffic and the potential of industrial and commercial development, because commercial and industrial development look for the best transportation routes. That's why it's important," Beatty said.

The turnpike interchange could benefit Eudora's commuters as well.

"It will be important for residents, particularly in this area, that commute to the northern parts of Kansas City, so they have a route so they don't have to go to Interstate 435 and up," Beatty said.

With resolutions in hand, the combined Leavenworth and Tonganoxie delegations, including Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor, will seek to supplement state funds for the project.

Although other surrounding towns like Baldwin or Ottawa could see improved traffic flow from the work, the windfall for Eudora could be greater -- but not at first.

"If that's chosen as a site, the initial impact for Eudora isn't going to be high but the eventuality is that the traffic rate could be raised," Beatty said.

More traffic would mean improved business for the downtown area, and would be a factor as Eudora applies for municipal improvement grants.

"Because it is a potential route for additional traffic, it could have influence," Beatty said.

The project would still have a long way to go even if the delegation succeeds in gaining the matching federal funds.

"It would be a good year-and-a-half of construction, and a year-and-a-half of design," David Jacobson, chief engineer for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, said.

Pyle agreed the project wouldn't happen any time soon.

"It's not going to happen today or tomorrow. It's in the making," Pyle said.

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