A team of consultants presented a final of draft of the Southwest Johnson County Comprehensive Plan to public officials, Aug. 28. The plan seeks to create a road map for future growth related to the intermodal project.
The plan is a year-long joint project between Gardner, Edgerton, Johnson County, and the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“We wanted to have your input before we get to the final product,” Kyle Anderson, lead consultant, told a roomful of officials, including planning commissioners, city council members and county commissioners.
While earlier public meetings focused on land use, the latest meeting featured a more in-depth discussion about anticipated transportation needs in the area.
When buildout of the intermodal and logistics park are complete, consultants assume that more than15,000 trucks per day will travel through the area as a result of the intermodal. Of those leaving the logistics park, 86 percent will be heading north towards distribution facilities in Kansas City and beyond.
The consultants estimated that 12,000 of those trucks will use the newly-constructed Homestead Lane interchange to access Interstate 35. The remainder will use other routes, including old U.S. 56 Highway through downtown Gardner.
The plan graded existing roadways for their level of service that will likely be used by truck traffic on a scale of ‘A’ through ‘F,’ and listed possible roadway improvements needed in the near future. For example, the consultants rated northbound 199th Street during peak AM and PM traffic as a ‘D,’ for opening day of the intermodal, set to open later this month. The northbound off-ramp at the Gardner Road interchange received an ‘F’ for AM peak traffic.
Anderson said a ‘D’ road is typically considered acceptable by officials.
Consultants recommended a series of road improvements to U.S. 56 Highway at the intersection with 199th Street and Sunflower Road; to Gardner Road at the I-35 interchange; and to Waverly Road at the intersection of 191st Street by 2025.
By 2040, consultants visualized a four-lane 199th Street; traffic signals at the Gardner Road interchange; and a relocated signal at Gardner Road and 191st Street.
The plan did not consider the location of the truck weigh station, located between 175th Street and Lone Elm Road on I-35. Consultants did not project the number of trucks that may attempt to go around the weigh station or the potential relocation of the station, which KDOT officials have said will be moving. State officials have previously considered moving the weigh station to where Moonlight Road passes over I-35 on the interstate.
Consultants also considered the potential of moving U.S. 56 Highway to 199th Street, however they did not make a recommendation on that potential move. That process would involve the city of Gardner taking ownership, or road maintenance responsibilities, of Main Street, and the state taking ownership of 199th Street from the county.
Mike Moriarity, a KDOT official, spoke from the audience. He said the issues would require a lot more discussions.
“KDOT, as a manner of practice, we don’t dump highways on cities,” Moriarity said. “That’s not something we take lightly.”
Marty Shukert, one of the planning consultants, said that decision is best left to the community. For example, if Gardner wanted a city with a lightly traveled, and more walkable Main Street, the city might consider requesting that 56 Highway be moved from Main Street to 199th Street. However, if city officials determine the traffic through town is imperative, they might not want to relocate the highway.
He said the Southwest Johnson County Area Plan should be used by public officials as a planning guide.
“It’s both a plan and a projection of what might happen,” he said. “It sets out some guidance for an uncertain future.”