April 28, 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 Monday, with the mayor breaking the tie, the Shawnee City Council 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 re-evaluate 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.
Much of the discussion focused on just how temporary the connection would be. Council member Jeff Vaught said he believed homeowners were promised the street would end in a cul-de-sac and a neighborhood should not be directly connected to a commercial development, so the city should commit to closing the connection after construction.
“It does bother me when we get into this whole (question of) is it temporary or permanent — we need to clarify if it is truly temporary,” he said.
Council member Dawn Kuhn said while she wasn’t advocating for a permanent connection yet, she thought it wouldn’t be wise to commit to closing the connection because they didn’t know what conditions in the area would be once construction was completed. She noted even if this Council committed to closing the street, a future Council could come back and reverse the decision.
The Council heard from several residents saying they supported the street connection but asking for a guarantee the connection would be temporary.
City staff reported that an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 cars might use the connection daily while 55th Street was closed, and residents said their narrow, uncurbed streets wouldn’t last long with that traffic.
“You saw the condition of that road; you think it’s going to last two years with two or three thousand cars?” Mike Harvill said. “It’s falling apart as it is.”
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.
Council member Michelle Distler said while emergency response times would be longer without the connection, they still wouldn’t be the longest of any area in the city, so she wasn’t sure if that justified the cost.
“It concerns me that it’s a temporary thing for such a short amount of time,” Distler said. “I’m just trying to weigh the benefits and drawbacks.”
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 Kuhn, Mickey Sandifer and Vaught. 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.
In other business, the Council:
• Elected Mickey Sandifer to a one-year term as Council president.
• Approved a resolution stating the city is considering establishing a Tax Increment Financing district and authorizing a public hearing.
• Heard Mayor Jeff Meyers proclaim May 9-15 as National Police Week in the city.
• Approved the appointment of Alan Willoughby to the Planning Commission with a term expiring June 30, 2010.
• Approved the continuance of a public hearing for the creation of a Community Improvement District for the Ten Quivira Plaza to the May 10 Council meeting. Gonzales stated that she wanted to assure the public there weren’t any problems or concerns with the district, it just was a matter of
• Approved a resolution setting a public hearing for July 12 to declare the Lindsey Auction Building, 4795 Frisbie Road, a dangerous and unsafe structure.
• Approved an agreement with Johnson County Transit for CityRide.
• Ratified semimonthly claims totaling $1,855,302.
Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2010/apr/28/mayor-breaks-tie-approve-road-westside-center/