Archive for Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Letters to the editor

February 5, 2003

To the editor

No one disputes that U.S. Highway 59 between Ottawa and Lawrence needs improving. State and Federal officials have concluded that an Offset Alignment (Alternative 5) is better for Kansas than the proposed Eastern Alignment (Alternative 3B). In my opinion, the preponderance of facts contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) supports the Eastern Alignment, which was initially endorsed, but now rejected, by transportation officials.

For the uninitiated, both alignments are designed as freeways and will make the Ottawa-Lawrence corridor much safer. One reason given for choosing the Offset Alignment is that officials do not want to perform environmental mitigation. I do not think this is a legitimate concern, because the FEIS clearly states that environmental impacts are similar for both roads. Although the alignments have similar environmental impacts, the officials' choice is much more expensive than the Eastern Alignment.

According to transportation officials, their choice of alignment (the Offset Alignment) will cost nearly $11 million more than the Eastern Alignment. This is because, among other things, the Offset Alignment will destroy significantly more homes and businesses than the Eastern Alignment. The transportation officials' cost estimate, though, is probably low. Continuing development along the existing roadway means that as many as 19 more homes will be destroyed by the Offset Alignment than originally thought. In addition, to accommodate all of the relocated homes and businesses, it is my understanding that the transportation officials' Offset Alignment will require many more miles of frontage road (as compared to the Eastern Alignment). This adds to the construction costs, but also will be a continuing cost to the counties and their taxpayers as the frontage roads require maintenance. To my knowledge, Franklin and Douglas counties have not addressed this additional cost. In short, the transportation officials are recommending that we pay millions more for a road that will have a much greater human impact.

The officials suggest that more local traffic will use their Offset Alignment than will use the Eastern Alignment. However, the FEIS shows that the amount of traffic left on Old 59 differs between the two alignments depending on what point one looks at on the map. Both alignments will offload a significant and comparable amount of traffic off of old U.S. 59, rendering a safe county road. That said, I believe the old U.S. 59 will become even more dangerous while the transportation officials' Offset Alignment is constructed, because the Offset Alignment will be built only 300 feet from the existing road.
And what do we have when it is finished? According to the transportation official's numbers, fewer people will use their Offset Alignment than will use the Eastern Alignment. Thus, the transportation officials are advocating spending millions of dollars more for a road that will be used less. If the Governor is serious about cutting waste for the State, she should look at what transportation officials are doing in Franklin and Douglas Counties.

Yours very truly,

Patricia. Brady

Baldwin City

To the editor:

The purpose of this letter is to thank the Baldwin City Police Department for its assistance in the fingerprinting of Baker student teachers. Per Kansas State Department of Education regulations, as of July 2002 any person applying for an initial teaching certificate is required to undergo a background check. While everyone is in agreement that screening of persons who will be working with young people in a school setting is desirable, the logistics of how to make this happen was left to each college.

Baldwin's local police department responded favorably to our request for assistance in this process. For the past two semesters, our local police department has provided this service at no cost to the student teachers at Baker University. They have been professional, capable and friendly during our visits. Knowing the difficulties and additional expense incurred by education students at other colleges, we, at Baker, appreciate the manner in which the police department has accommodated our request. Please accept our sincere thanks.

Baker University Education Department Faculty - Karla Bloomer, Peggy Harris, Bill Neuenswander, Merrie Skaggs and Machele Timberlake

To the editor:

I am a fourth-grade student at Mary Herbert Elementary School in Emporia, Kan. At the end of this school year, Mary Herbert Elementary is closing down as an elementary school after 73 years. We are trying to contact all Mary Herbert School alumni about a special day we have planned. On April 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., we are going to have a "Farewell Day." Alumni and friends will have a last chance to go through our building reminiscing of days gone by. We hope to see you there.

Kelsi Hardman

Emporia

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