To the editor:
I just read the Nov. 29 article in the Times with concern and a big frown. The Leavenworth City Commission voted to renew a memorandum of understanding with the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding the management of the Kansas 7 Highway corridor.
Why is the city managing the corridor or why is the Kansas DOT signing the memorandum with the city? Why is the Leavenworth County Commission not the signee? Like the planning for the Centennial Bridge replacement, this is another instance where the cart has been put in front of the horse. Leavenworth County should be the planner and the signature authority on both projects.
It was interesting to read Leavenworth Mayor Mark Preisinger’s comments. It is not surprising Presinger spoke about the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, but never spoke of Highway 7/73 traffic problems or needed improvements in Lansing. In the city’s perspective, Lansing is still the red-headed stepchild. Leavenworth considers Lansing and 7/73 a speed bump in the way of city and Fort Leavenworth traffic.
I have another perspective. I have been a Lansing resident for 25 years. My residence is one-quarter mile south of Gilman Road and about 170 yards west of 7/73. In those 25 years, traffic counts and noise on 7/73 has increased probably 300 percent. Highway 7/73 is no longer a highway. It has become a 24/7 high-speed race track.
A quick, feasible solution for Lansing 7/73 traffic and noise would be for the Kansas DOT to move the speed limit change location (50 to 65 mph) currently at Gilman Road in south Lansing to Marxen Road, just south of Wallula Church. Reducing the southbound speed limit to 50 mph instead of the current 65 mph will increase the driving time from Gilman to Marxen by around 25 seconds. I know Leavenworth will think that is an extraordinary slap on city and fort drivers. I have to put up with their traffic and noise. Kansas DOT has a formula for setting speed limits. Evidently, 7/73 in south Lansing does not meet the speed limit change criteria.
Northbound 7/73 traffic from Marxen to Gilman is another problem, especially for big diesel, tractor trailer trucks. They come down the long grade from Wallula at 65 mph. As they get close to the 50 mph zone at Gilman, they start slowing, usually by downshifting the gears. This results in a loud, stuttering noise. Some drivers will downshift two or three times, exacerbating the problem. I often get up around 2 a.m. to let my dog out. Every night at zero dark 30, two or three big diesel delivery trucks roll into the area. I think those drivers are angry they are up and working.
Centennial Bridge and 7/73 are too important to leave to the city of Leavenworth. A new Highway 92 bridge at the current location does absolutely nothing to enhance local traffic, especially economic development. The millions of dollars spent by Leavenworth and the LCDC to build a new industrial park on west Eisenhower will be a bust. Companies looking to locate in the Leavenworth area will continue to be turned off, to look askance at the connections to interstate highways – 12 miles to I-70 at Bonner Springs and no direct interstate connection to the east.
As for Mayor Preisinger’s concern that more stoplights will be put on 7/73, you can count on it. Safety will dictate more bridges. Area population is growing and traffic will increase. Unless someone can come up with the funds to build overpasses and frontage roads, 7/73 will get more and more traffic. I can envision stoplights at Gilman, McIntyre, Hollingsworth and Donahoo roads.
We need a new Missouri River bridge on Eisenhower connecting to Missouri 152 at I-435 on the west side of the Kansas City metroplex.
Any major road/bridge project other than this is a waste of money and time.
County voters just approved increasing the county commission to five members. A new Missouri River bridge and 7/73 are county issues. With five commissioners they should be able to be the planers and signature authority to handle the bridge and highway problems/projects.