City Commissioners break ground Monday afternoon at the location of the new park that will be built on East Pine in South Liberal. Commissioners are joined by city staff, Chamber Ambassadors and Liberal Firefighters. Daily Leader photo/Jessica Crawford
CIty hopes to keep 4-laning Hwy. 54 in KDOT’s priorities
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
On Oct. 27, the City of Liberal – along with Garden City and Dodge City – will have a chance to address the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding projects concerning Southwest Kansas.
City commissioners met Monday evening to discuss possible ideas to bring up during next week’s T-Works meeting. City Manager Mark Hall explained what the unadopted agenda for the meeting stated and asked for suggestions from the commission prior to its adoption.
“This is the 2011 agenda, you have not seen this, nor have you adopted this,” Hall said. “I did include our 2010, which was prior to the information we received of approximately $151 million to District 6. I think if you look at 2010, the No. 1 priority at that time, was (four-lane) U.S. 54 from Kingman to Mullinville. That was the agreement we had with the other cities when that was adopted. Then our No. 2 priority was the U.S. Highway 50 from Garden to Dodge. No. 4 was U.S. 54 from Liberal to Mullinville.”
During meetings with Dodge City and Garden City, the three communities put their focus on a District 5 project, the four-laning of U.S. Highway 54 from Kingman to Mullinville. KDOT, Hall said, is looking for a District 6 project, leaving Kingman to Mullinville a moot point.
“Dodge City and Garden City were in discussion with this T-Works and priorities have changed,” he said. “Now, in the old days, we all agreed on U.S. 54. Now, this is just for discussion. It was discussed that projects will take place in District 6, so Kingman to Mullinville will not be in the picture.”
Many prospective projects for KDOT to consider suggest passing lanes rather than four-lane expansion. Commissioners were uncomfortable with settling with passing lanes alone.
“The next priority was Highway 50,” Hall said. “It appears for all projects, they went with passing lanes. If you note on Highway 50, they felt it was in their best interest to go with passing lanes.
“It appears that Garden and Dodge have decided that the possibility of getting increased safety, the best bet was to go with passing lanes and possibly see that happen. It does have on here, U.S. 54 from Liberal to Kiowa County, 31 miles of passing lanes,” he added. “It is still going to be decided by KDOT. No monies have been allocated, the meeting has not taken place yet. They are going to make good decisions, they are going to take input.”
Commissioner Bob Carlile informed the commission of the cost and work involved in removing a passing lane in order to four-lane Highway 54. Mayor Tim Long agreed and was concerned that settling for passing lanes alone may get Southwest Kansas left out of the loop in the future.
The commission unanimously agreed to allow Hall to look further into leaving the four-laning of U.S. Highway 54 from Mullinville to Kingman on the agenda for the 2011 T-Works meeting.
Hall encouraged commissioners and those with “economic clout” to give presentations and testimonials at the meeting regarding the expansion of Highway 54.
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