County officials explain intersection redesign
Johnson County Public Works officials explained to the De Soto City Council last Thursday their proposed realignment of the city's prime intersection for future commercial development was part of a plan meant to prevent traffic snarls.
Should a future north/south major arterial be built along Kill Creek Road's present alignment it would became a bottleneck not unlike Lawrence's 23rd Street or Olathe's Santa Fe Avenue west of Interstate 35, the county officials said.
The county officials - public works director Mac Andrews, operations engineer Geoffrey Vohs and assistant county engineer Brian Pietig - were pitching a realignment heretofore unpopular with De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson and city council members. And although they made progress in changing opinions on the council about the realignment, issues of timeline and cost still separate the county and city.
The design for the intersection is part of a plan for a future parkway along a Kill Creek/Homestead corridor, which in turn would be part of a greater County Arterial Road Network Plan.
When fully built out, the arterial would be a six-lane roadway with a 150- to 200-foot right of way.
The county's realignment plan for the future parkway would have Kill Creek veer to the west to an alignment with Homestead Road south of 95th Street. Homestead Road south of 95th Street. In 2002, the Johnson County Commission approved a quarter-mile corridor for the future roadway.
In the last few months the county has conducted a study to more closely define where the future roadway would be in that corridor.
The goal of the realignment was access control, Vohs said. There are 68 possible access points onto Kill Creek from Kansas Highway 10 south to 115th Street and that is without the future development that would certainly occur, he said.
"The better we can control access, the better we can move people through the corridor," he said. "Think about this corridor not as it exists today but 20 or 30 years from now. Think of Santa Fe west of I-35 with its lights every five feet - or it seems like it."
Expanding the current Kill Creek alignment would also require the relocation or purchase of homes, Vohs said.
The future parkway's alignment led to the redesign the Kill Creek/95th Street intersection to square up with the veer to the west.
But in redesigning that intersection, the county muddled the future of an intersection thought to have great promise for commercial development. In the last year, the city has rezoned property on the northwest corned of the intersection to commercial and developed a future land-use plan for the 95th Street that pegs the intersection for commercial development.
Anderson has criticized the Homestead/Kill Creek alignment, advocating the county concentrate instead on a planned CARNP route through Sunflower as the needed north/south arterial in the northwest part of the county.
Both future roadways, spaced about a mile apart, would eventually be needed when the northwest part of the county becomes urbanized, Andrew said. Arterial roads in eastern Johnson County are on a 1-mile grid with 1/2-mile separating arterials in some of the busiest areas, he said.
From a commercial development standpoint, the realigned intersection creates more frontage along 95th Street and made more likely the Kansas Department of Transportation would approve access from Kill Creek Road to the property on the northwest corner of the 95h Street/Kill Creek Road intersection, Andrew said. Because of KDOT distance requirements, it is not thought the agency would approve access from Kill Creek Road's present alignment.
The council's response to the report was mixed. Councilman Mike Drennon remained opposed, and Councilman Tim Maniez said he now understood the reason for the veer but wondered if different solutions were possible, such as building an access road behind the Kill Creek Road properties or making the veer sharper.
The presentation did win over Councilwoman Mitra Templin. She was swayed by the advantages to the city of more frontage along 95th Street and the need to prevent traffic congestion.
But Templin and Councilman Ted Morse brought up a basic conundrum. The county was talking about a roadway to be built in 20 to 30 years, and the city could be asked at any time to approve a development plan for the intersection that didn't conform to the county's plan.
"If that happens, we're probably going to approve it," Morse said, noting the city's need for commercial development.
Costs were also a concern. The county does have funds set aside for the purchase of right-of-way along CARNP routes, but Andrew said it had not used that money to buy land within cities. He doubted the county would start that practice with a lot of cities in the county needing to purchase right-of-way.
Preserving the right-of-way for the realigned intersection within the city at an estimated cost of $1.3 million is not something the city could consider, Anderson said.
Andrew said the city didn't need to take that step now. It simply needed to adopt the plan preserving the right-of-way and ask developers to work with a plan that would cost them little while giving them more frontage and possibly additional land when the old Kill Creek Road easement north of 95th Street was abandoned, he said.
Morse proposed a more radical plan of building the intersection in the coming years, long before the newly aligned roadway south of 95th Street was built. Although dubbed the "road to nowhere" by Templin, the plan was attractive to council members and Andrew said would probably qualify for the joint county and city project through the county's CARS program.
But Andrew and county planning director Dean Palos again pitched the city adopting a plan to preserve the intersection's right-of-way. Nothing was happening at the intersection now and the right-of-way preservation would leave adequate room for development for the city's current needs, Palos said.
The goal, Pietig said, was to develop a memorandum of understanding between the city and the county that would adopt the county plan.
Before that was done, city council members agreed the county officials should make a presentation Tuesday to the De Soto Planning Commission and review the plan with the owners of the rezoned property on the northwest corner of the 95th Street/Kill Creek Road intersection.
When that is completed and some of the ideas presented last Thursday further hashed out, city staff will present a memorandum of understanding for the council to consider.