The Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that they have decided against tolling any portion of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
In September 2011, KDOT contracted with ETC Institute to conduct a statistically valid “willingness to pay” survey in order to better understand how drivers in Douglas, Johnson, and Shawnee counties would respond to a toll on the SLT. Based on an analysis of the survey results, the amount of traffic that would choose to use local streets instead of the SLT was of a level that would have necessitated the reopening of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required under federal law by the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Reopening the EIS would require that the scheduled letting date in the fall of 2013 be put on hold indefinitely, resulting in significant delay to the project and substantial increases in construction costs,” said Acting KDOT Secretary Barb Rankin. “KDOT is committed to delivering this project on time and on budget.”
Tolling would have provided funding for construction of an interchange at K-10 and Bob Billings Parkway. KDOT will work with Douglas County and the City of Lawrence to develop an alternate funding package to allow the interchange to remain in the SLT construction project.
The SLT will be a six-mile, four-lane freeway section connecting the K-10 corridor around the city of Lawrence in Douglas County. Project construction is estimated to cost $150 million. The SLT has the greatest economic benefit of any project under the 10-year, $8 billion T-WORKS transportation program, and will include the creation of more than 300 acres of new wetlands, as well as bike paths and a camping grounds area. The proposed alignment begins at U.S. Highway 59/Iowa St. and continues east past 1750 Road, where it joins K-10.
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Governor Sam Brownback on Friday announced the road construction and repair projects for Northeast Kansas for the next few years. Among the biggest attention grabber of the programs announced, was the completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway from Iowa Street east to K-10.
“We are going to finish the South Lawrence Trafficway,” Brownback said. “It will get done. We are going to do this.”
The SLT project is now projected to cost $192 million and could possibly become a toll road.
KDOT Secretary Deb Miller stated that KDOT is working on a way to allow local traffic on the SLT at no cost and have either an entry or exit toll booth where the SLT meets I-70 and possibly at the other end where the SLT would meet K-10.
“We will be studying the feasibility of a toll road as we go through the design phases of the project” Miller said.
We asked if there would be a separate toll gate on the SLT prior to reaching I-70 (where the turnpike toll gates are) Miller said that they would try to work with the KTA and see if the possibility of tying into the Turnpike toll system would be available. “If we do add a toll system, we will make sure there is an easy to use electronic system for tolling.”
Other projects announced on Friday include improvements at the I-70 and K-7 interchange in Wyandotte County, an additional exit on I-35 between Gardner and Edgerton to facilitate the new intermodal facility near the location and a major improvement project from the 435/35/K-10 interchange in Johnson County.
Also in attendance at the Governor’s press conference on Friday was Ali Shutt, the mother of 5 year old Cainan Shutt who was killed in the crossover accident on K-10 near the Church Street exit back in April.
Shutt was able to speak to the Governor for a few minutes to plead her case for cable barriers on the K-10 corridor.
“He (referring to the Governor) was compassionate about the accident and told me that he is really working on the barrier issue” Shutt said. “I was impressed that he was well aware of the situation and wanted to get something done on K-10.”