Commissioners discuss next steps for Eastern Gateway project

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners soon could consider initiating another study for what is being referred to as the Eastern Gateway project.

And commissioners also could be asked to hire an attorney who has experience working on these types of projects as public-private partnerships.

Commissioners discussed the next steps for the Eastern Gateway project during a work session Wednesday. No action was taken. Commissioners plan to revisit the matter in a couple of weeks.

The Eastern Gateway project is a proposal for creating a roadway connection from Leavenworth County to Missouri 152 Highway in Platte County, Missouri. The project would require a bridge across the Missouri River.

Leavenworth County commissioners previously paid for a concept study by TranSystems that looked at alternatives for connecting Missouri 152 Highway with Eisenhower Road in Leavenworth County. That study estimated the project would cost more than $250 million.

Bill Noll, infrastructure and construction services director for the county, said Wednesday that the county is at a point in which it needs to move forward with the process or put the study on a shelf.

“I think momentum is hard to regain once you’ve lost it,” he said.

He said the project could “take a lot of years, a lot of time, a lot of effort.”

In order to move ahead with the project, Noll said, commissioners will need to authorize a second study and hire a lawyer with experience with these types of projects.

Noll said a recent change in state law has opened the door to the possibility of a public-private partnership for the project.

He said the second study would be a feasibility study which would look at potential traffic and revenue from tolling.

Noll said this study would cost about $100,000. He said the county has a proposal for the study from the company Arup.

During Wednesday’s work session, commissioners had a telephone conversation with John Smolen, an attorney with the law firm Ballard Spahr.

Noll said Smolen, who is based in Baltimore, is an expert in public-private partnerships.

“There’s some legal wood to chop,” Smolen said of the process.

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