Marlatt-Junietta connection gets favorable early review

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County hopes to know by the first of the year whether its Marlatt-Junietta Extension proposal is to receive further study by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The proposal, along with other project proposals from across the state, was presented to KDOT’s T-Works group last Tuesday, and apparently received favorable reviews.

“Our project was either the top one or two in each room,” Buck Driggs of SMH Consultants told county commissioners Monday. “We were hoping for the top three.”

The projects selected by T-Works––a 10-year, $8 billion highway improvement program for Kansas––are expected to be announced shortly after the first of the year. And the Marlatt-Junietta project may have an advantage, Driggs noted, because the county is seeking only further study and not actual construction dollars.

The Marlatt-Junietta Extension would parallel U.S. Highway 24 and connect with Marlatt Avenue in Manhattan via a bridge over the Blue River. The aim of the project is to ease traffic congestion along U.S. Highway 24 by providing an alternate route to the northeast portion of the city of Manhattan.

In a study of conceptual routes commissioned by Pott County, SMH developed six options for the proposed roadway––two each from Lake Elbo Road, Hopkins Creek Road and Flush Road.

The Flush Road option garnered the most favor from the public, as well as from T-Works representatives, because it could also encompass needed improvements to the Flush Road intersection, Driggs told commissioners.

The Flush Road options are also the longest and most expensive, with estimated costs of close to $50 million.

About 20 representatives from the area attended last Tuesday’s T-Works presentation in support of the Marlatt-Junietta project, including Commissioner Stan Hartwich.

“Everybody in our room thought it was a very important project,” Hartwich said, noting that KDOT has also been informed the county is willing to participate financially in further study.

In other business Monday:

• The commission authorized Leu Lowrey, public works director, to apply to the Kansas Division of Water Resources for an additional water appropriation for the Timber Creek Water District.

The district has an annual appropriation of 45.786 million gallons of usage per year, but is expected to exceed that usage by the end of this month. Year-to-date, the district has used more than 43.6 million gallons due to dry conditions and the growing number of new homes with sprinkler systems.

The county will apply for a permanent annual appropriation of 60 million gallons.

“If we could get 50 to 55 million I’d be real happy,” Lowrey said. “This will be the first time we’ve ever gone over (the appropriation).”

If the state won’t approve an additional water allocation, the county may have to consider options for restricting water use, Lowrey said–– either voluntary cutbacks or a surcharge on water use over a specified amount.

• Commissioner Pat Weixelman conferred an “attaboy” on Sheriff Greg Riat for stationing a deputy along U.S. Highway 24 during morning traffic hours while work is being done on the Blue River Bridge east of Manhattan.

“Your presence down there has truly helped the situation,” Weixelman told Riat, noting there hasn’t been a single accident due to traffic backed up past Green Valley Road in the westbound lane.

Work on the bridge the past few weeks has reduced traffic to a single lane and the presence of a deputy in the median has discouraged motorists from trying to “get to the front of the line,” according to Riat.

“It’s an overtime assignment now,” Riat said. “Every morning we have a deputy there and, yes, it’s made a difference.”

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