Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2000

KDOT rejects DeSoto project

August 10, 2000

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) has rejected DeSoto's request for funding of an interchange east of Lexington Road on the K-10 exit.

KDOT made its announcement last week and a spokesman said the pending Oz project was not a factor in the decision..

"The future volume did not play a part on interchanges," said Marty Matthews, a KDOT spokesman. "There's nothing built there to generate the traffic yet. You have to have something concrete. The way the score worked out on the application, it did not justify building the interchange."

In June 1999 KDOT announced it would take applications for its System Enhancement Program (SEP). Local governments submitted projects in one of six categories: rural corridor, rural bypass, rural interchange, urban corridor, urban bypass and urban interchange. The program allowed $1.05 billion for urban and rural projects. One element was interchanges, or a set of on ramps and off ramps allowing motorist to exit and enter a highway. Of the 137 total projects evaluated, DeSoto applied for one project, an interchange to service the proposed Oz theme park.

Gerald Cooper, DeSoto City Administrator, said Oz officials requested the city apply for an interchange. Cooper said the project was estimated at $30 million.

"We submitted that application on behalf of Oz Entertainment Corporation," Cooper said. "It was really more of their project than it was the city's project."

DeSoto's application was rejected from a lack of pre-existing development at the area of the interchange.

Like DeSoto, neighboring Eudora's applications were rejected from a lack of preexisting development at the area of the interchange.

Matt Taylor, the city engireer for both DeSoto and Eudora, said funding for a Winchester Road interchange was the project most desired as the road's paving continues to progress. Taylor said despite the denied funding, it would not affect the paving of the road.

"It will still get paved," Taylor said. "It still need to be done. I think it was worth the try."

Applicants for interchanges were graded on the amount of partially complete work already finished on the project. Applicants were also graded on economic development per each area.

Though the estimated cost of the Winchester Road interchange was $1 million and planning is under way for the road's improvements next year, it did not contribute to Eudora receiving the interchange.

Taylor disagrees.

He said the lack of the interchange might hinder businesses such as strip malls from developing alone the K-10 and Winchester Road area.

"It will make it harder for anybody to develop all that adjacent ground because all that traffic would have to go back through the town," Taylor said.

The total amount of funding for the SEP were part of a bigger fund called the Comprehensive Transportation Program (CEP), totaling $12.9 billion. The remaining $11.85 billion for the CEP will fund highways, corridors and other larger projects not outlined in the SEP.

Wichita scored highest amount the rating, taking in $224.5 mission for CEP and SEP projects. Taylor said he would have liked to seen the funds spread out more across the state than four projects in one major metro area.

"Wichita just made out," Taylor said. "I don't know why we're not on this final plan. As of a few weeks ago we were still on the list."

Eudora was not the only town denied a project that could potentially help greatly with traffic in the future.

With Eudora, Taylor said this application was the city's only shot as getting an interchange built on Winchester Road. He said the project would be too expensive for the city to take on in the immediate future.

"In the near future, it's pretty much a dead deal I think," Taylor said.

Cooper said the DeSoto project would also exceed the city's capability to become a reality.

"That would be far in excess of our capability," Cooper said. "The city of course, might be a beneficiary from economic development from Oz but it wasn't going to go to any city streets or anything."

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