There are several major issues on the horizon. The first issue is the next phase of the “JoCo Gateway” expansion of the 435/I-35/K-10 interchange. This is a massive and expensive project that Lenexa cannot shoulder without help from the state and federal government.
As we have seen in the recent discussions over the Highway 69 expansion in Overland Park, adding lanes and expanding highways is incredibly expensive. Adding one lane in each direction for 9 miles of Highway 69 will cost roughly the same amount as it cost to build the entire 6 miles of the KC Streetcar system. While JoCo Gateway is an important project to Lenexa’s and the metro area’s future, we must take care to ensure it does not crowd out other important projects. This means thinking through the community’s long-term future, and identifying our long-term transportation needs.
Is a massive new highway interchange really the best use of our tax dollars and worth potentially displacing businesses or homeowners? I am skeptical that it is, but we don’t yet know the full scope of its impacts. This is probably the most impactful decision our City Council has before it in the next few years. To make the best decision, we should take a comprehensive look at the city’s needs, engage in a community-wide (or even county-wide) discussion of our transportation priorities, and make sure the voices of all Lenexans are heard.
The other big issues I have heard in my conversations with voters and residents in Ward 3 are maintaining Lenexa’s high-quality city services while keeping taxes reasonable, managing development so that it benefits both the older and newer parts of the city, expanding community supports to be more inclusive of city’s growing diversity, increasing transportation options including protected bike paths and transit, cannabis decriminalization, expanding community health services (esp. mental health services), managing the effects of climate change, and ensuring both housing & residential property taxes remain affordable.