Story published: Friday, Jun. 06, 2008

The Olathe News

New Hy-Vee yields street-improvement issues

jweinstein@theolathenews.com

A new Hy-Vee at 151st Street and Black Bob Road will result in street improvements that may restrict access to two fast food restaruants at the corner.

Olathe councilmembers delayed Tuesday a decision on a final development plan for Blackbob 151 Shops, which would include a 76,000-square-foot Hy-Vee on more than 38 acres.

The city proposes adding a right-hand turn lane on 151st at the corner and a traffic signal on Black Bob near the Hy-Vee entrance.

Alonzo Liñan, assistant public works director, said the improvements would alleviate congestion at an already busy intersection.

Councilmembers expressed concern with the median on Black Bob. The median would be extended past the entrances to Sonic, which is on the southwest corner, and McDonald’s, which is on the southeast corner. The extension would block access to Sonic for drivers heading north on Black Bob, and it would block access to McDonald’s for drivers heading south on Black Bob.

“In this area of town, that’s already a tough area to get through,” Councilmember John Bacon said. “This is only going to make that problem worse.”

Councilmember Marge Vogt agreed.

“I can’t imagine what the traffic will be like,” she said. “I can’t imagine, and it will impact people’s ability to frequent (those businesses) so it can have a negative impact just on the business itself.” Bacon also was concerned the improvements soon would have to be replaced to build a four-lane section of the road. He said the proposed improvements “sounded like a waste.”

“I’m wondering how many phone calls we’re going to get before we realize we have to go back and tear out improvements that were made and fix it,” Bacon said. “That’s just a place I really don’t want to go.”

Bacon suggested making that quarter-mile section of road from 151st to Hy-Vee four lanes.

Liñan said that would cost roughly $2 million, most of which the city doesn’t have. He said the current plan would provide the best immediate value with the developer contributing more than $500,000.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is what are we willing to live with to encourage continued development, and at this point that answer is more traffic on a two-lane road,” Liñan said.

Bacon said using the developers’ contributions and funds from excise taxes would put the city about halfway to the $2 million cost to make the stretch of road four lanes. Public Works Director Rick Biery said that figure wasn’t accurate, and the city likely would have to make up a difference of about $1.5 million — not $1 million.

Biery said the delay on the decision would give city staff time to prepare alternatives. Liñan said that likely would be an “S” median that would allow access to the restaurants.

Developer Bob Johnson said he was amenable to the delay, especially if a solution reduced congestion.

“The last thing Hy-Vee wants to do is build a store that can’t be serviced,” he said.