Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2000

KDOT will play catchup with DeSoto someday


August 24, 2000

Sadly, the Kansas Department of Transportation shunned DeSoto earlier this month.

One of the most rapidly growing areas in the state was rejected in its bid for much-needed improvement on an oft-traveled intersection that only figures to grow more congested if the Wonderful Wizard of Oz theme park someday becomes a reality.

As it stands, the Lexington Avenue interchange will endure as a symbol of an antiquated town trying desperately to modernize and prepare for the future, which projections show looks so bright.

KDOT said it couldn't approve a project on a what-if basis. In other words, with no guarantee that Oz is coming to town, it had no intention of shelling out any of the $1.05 billion the governor set aside for intersection and interchange improvements on the state's highways.

It's too bad KDOT's braintrust doesn't have the vision or imagination to dream. Projections show even without the theme park, DeSoto is on the cusp of a growth spurt that will turn this sleepy bedroom community into a self-contained city.

But when dealing with KDOT, projections matter little. It's merely a matter of what's currently in place and the current infrastructure's ability to handle it.

It's one of the reasons Johnson County has had to undergo major road expansion in the last decade. No one had the foresight to project the growth and as a result, KDOT was forced to play catchup. In this case, playing catchup turned our county into an orange-barreled nightmare. Someday, KDOT will be forced to play catchup in DeSoto, too.

Unfortunately, we will suffer for its haste both now and then.

If there is some consolation, it comes in the fact that DeSoto did not receive KDOT's lone snub. Nearby Eudora applied for a K-10 interchange and was rejected because its project offered little economic impact to the community. Of course, we have a hard time finding much enjoyment in the misfortune of Eudora or any other city north of the Wichita area that was rejected by KDOT.

We only hope that someday KDOT will realize the transportation needs of this area.

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