The Kansas Department of Transportation will ask the city of Gardner to sign on to a study to create a freight district in southwest Johnson County. Participating in the plan would cost the city 5.5 percent of the estimated $450,000 project, or no more than $25,000.
Thomas Dow, a state transportation planner, said the study is needed because the intermodal will generate thousands of truck per day.
“We believe the plan should try to address several key questions,” he told city council members during a work session on March 12.
Specifically, the study will research how trucks should move through a 21-square mile area in Gardner, Edgerton and unincorporated parts of Johnson County. The goal is to plan for local roadways, state highways, develop land use assumptions that could be used to update the city’s comprehensive plan as well develop bike and trail concepts for the area.
One question the study will examine is whether U.S. 56 Highway should be aligned with 199th Street. Under such a scenario, the state would turn maintenance of Main Street in downtown Gardner, currently U.S. 56 Highway, over to the city while the maintenance of 199th Street would revert from the county to the state.
It’s a question that was initially raised a few years ago when the state conducted a U.S. 56 Highway Corridor study. One result of that research is an anticipated project that will expand the intersection of Main and Center Streets.
The study would also consider how to protect neighboring residential areas and what the various public entities will need to do as the area is transformed from agricultural to industrial.
The state will fund the majority of the project with a $300,000 investment while Johnson County will kick in $75,000. The Mid-America Regional Council, Edgerton and Gardner would each finance $25,000 of the project.
“Our primary reason for asking for money at all is there’s community buy-in,” Dow explained.
Council members will be formally asked to sign on to the study at the next council meeting on March 19.
From there, Dow said KDOT will work swiftly to get research underway.
“We really think timing for planning this area is critical,” Dow said as the BNSF intermodal’s anticipated opening date is fall 2013.
The state will host an informational meeting for consultants interested in doing the study on April 2, and KDOT plans to hire a consulting firm no later than April 12.
Dow anticipates the study will take a year.