Shawnee Dispatch

City will build 57th Street connection

April 26, 2010

The city will build a 115-foot connection from 57th Street to the Oak Valley West shopping center to ease traffic concerns during construction of an interchange.

In a split vote, with the mayor breaking the tie, the Shawnee City Council Monday approved the connection through the end of the fourth phase of construction on the interchange at Johnson Drive and Kansas Highway 7, when the city would reevaluate its need. Some Council members said they could not support the expense for such a short period of time, but those in support said the benefits of improved safety and traffic access in the area were worth the costs.

The Council heard from several residents saying they supported the street connection but asking that the city guarantee the connection would be temporary. Many residents argued the connection should only be open for the estimated two and a half months 55th street would be closed for construction of a roundabout and realignment of Hedge Lane Terrace, rather than for the total length of construction of the overall interchange project, which is projected to be complete in November 2011.

But most Council members said they still couldn’t support the $50,000 cost for a two-month fix. Some pointed out that because the cost would be bonded over 15 years with other funds the city is contributing to the interchange construction, the actual cost was $67,000 with interest.

The suggested compromise was to leave the connection in place until the state completes the fourth phase of construction, in which the interchange would be reopened to traffic from Johnson Drive and 55th Street, projected for completion in August 2011. The fifth and final phase of construction includes an overpass at Clear Creek Parkway and some highway realignment; Council members agreed the connection would not be as beneficial during this phase.

Voting in favor of the connection were Dawn Kuhn, Mickey Sandifer and Jeff Vaught. Michelle Distler, David Morris and Neal Sawyer voted against the motion. Council member Dan Pflumm was absent from the meeting.

In casting his tie-breaking vote, Mayor Jeff Meyers noted the support of area residents for a connection and the enhanced safety for the area with better emergency response times.

Watch this week’s edition of The Dispatch and for more discussion from Monday’s meeting.

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