By Jon A. Brake
Third Street business owners won the hearts and minds of the Manhattan City Commissioners Tuesday night but a letter from Kansas Department of Transportation but a halt to the meeting. It should have been earlier.
The City staff were asking the Commission for permission to get requests for proposals for the Tuttle Creek Boulevard - Bluemont Avenue Corridor Improvements.
Plans call for Bluemont to be widened, stop lights to be installed at Forth and Bluemont and removed at Third and Bluemont. Plans also call for "a raised median on Bluemont to provide needed left-turn storage capacity approaching TCB." This would eliminate all left-turns and stop through traffic on Third.
The plan also calls for traffic to turn on Forth Street and then "filter" to the businesses on Third. This would require trucks to move down residential streets. This was a traffic plan that only took into consideration the problems at Third and Bluemont. It would create havoc with businesses and residential streets but it would help the traffic problem.
Area business owners put up a good argument for keeping third street open and allowing left-turns.
After three hours members of the KDOT office in Wamego told the Commission that this was the only plan they would approve. The Commissioners tabled the item and everyone went home at 12:10 a.m.
Chris Huffman, P.E., Corridor Management Administrator and the author of a letter in the Commission packet told the Free Press Wednesday that KDOT has seen two plans, both with the "raised median". He said the department would consider other plans if they are developed.
Here is his letter:
Dear Mr. Petty:
Re: US-24 Highway Proposed Wal-Mart Redevelopment
This letter follows our meeting of November 8, 2001 here in Topeka that included representatives of KDOT Corridor Management, the City of Manhattan and Transystems appearing as the City’s consultant. The outcome of this meeting, as it relates to US-24 Highway (Tuttle Creek Boulevard) and the proposed Wal-Mart redevelopment, was that the concept for the improvements to Tuttle Creek Boulevard (TCB) is acceptable with certain caveats. An approved DOT Form 309, Highway Permit for Highway Access, will still be required to perform any work on the highway right of way and a detailed plan review will be required before a permit can be approved.
There are three specific caveats that will be required in order for final plans and a permit application to be approved. Those caveats are:
1. The intersection of Bluemont and Third Street, which currently exists within the functional boundary of the TCB/Bluemont intersection, will require modification. The proposed design calls for the removal of the existing signal at Bluemont and Third and construction of a raised median on Bluemont to provide needed left-turn storage capacity approaching TCB. This will render Third Street a right-in right-out intersection at Bluemont. This is necessary for the safety of the travelling public utilizing the intersection of BluemontlTCB.
2. The intersection of the frontage road with what will be Bluemont extended on the other side of the BluemontITCB intersection will also require modification. The current frontage road intersection is much to close to TCB to ever operate safely and efficiently under any significant traffic load. The concept to close the north leg of this intersection and to realign the frontage road to the south to connect with Bluemont extended, thus providing greatly improved separation from the highway intersection, is satisfactory.
3. The third caveat involves the proposed intersection design of McCall and TCB. Leaving the frontage road connected to McCall at its existing location is acceptable provided that McCall is redesigned with non-traversable median to insure the operation of the McCalllFrontage Road intersection as a right-in right-out only intersection.
The other item of significance is the requested turn-back of the frontage road right of way to the City so that it may be incorporated into the site plan. The frontage road is currently maintained by the City, and it is not clear at this point who holds the right of way (KDOT has no records of acquisition) or what may be the quality of title. The reconstruction of TCB, particularly the widening of the intersections, is likely to involve some extension of drainage structures and may include some re-grading of ditch sections. Before this can take place, KIDOT will require drainage information sufficient in scope and detail to be assured that the highway drainage will work at least as well in the after condition as it does currently.
I appreciate the opportunity for continued involvement in this process.
If additional questions arise, please contact either LuAnn Roth or myself
at the address or number listed above. Thank you for your time and attention.