NEWS RELEASES

Text of Corps of Engineers Outreach Letter
Monday, February 11, 2002

Letter is edited slightly due to technical limitations.

This letter is being provided to inform interested parties of a proposal by the Kansas Department of Transportation to construct an extension to Kansas Highway 10, in Douglas County, and to invite comments. The Kansas City District, Corps of Engineers is currently preparing an EIS in connection with the proposed work. The State of Kansas considers the project to be an important component of its plans to improve traffic between southern Johnson County and the cities of Lawrence and Topeka. The proposal would provide a high-speed, 4-lane route between the three areas by connecting K-10 with the Kansas Turnpike. Please refer to Attachment I for a plan view of the region.

This project may be familiar to you since the FHWA previously completed an EIS in 1990, to address a similar proposal by Douglas County. That proposal was referred to as the South Lawrence Trafficway and would have impacted an approximately 3,000' long section of 31st Street located on Haskell Indian Nations University property in Lawrence. HINU is located on the site of the former Haskell Institute, an early Native American boarding school. The current proposal by KDOT includes alternative highway alignments that cross properties that were once part of Haskell Institute. These properties include the modern HINU campus and adjacent Baker University property known as Baker Wetland. Please refer to Attachment II for a plan view of the alternative highway alignments currently under consideration.

As the lead Federal agency, the Kansas City District is responsible for determining if any properties located in the proposed permit area are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, I am inviting comments from interested parties concerning my pending eligibility determination. A report has been prepared to assist me in my determination. The report concludes that the site of the former Haskell Institute (the modern HINU campus and Baker wetland) meets eligibility requirements for listing on the Register as a Historic District. My staff has discussed this matter with the State Historic Preservation Officer and has been informed by the SHPO that he concurs with the report's conclusion. A summary of the report?s findings is provided as Attachment III. A copy of the SHPO's findings is provided as Attachment IV.

Concerns regarding the project's potential to impact unidentified Native American graves were expressed in the past. If the proposed work is authorized and an unmarked grave is discovered during construction activities, all earth moving operations that could affect the site would be terminated until the site is evaluated in accordance with state law. Kansas state law prohibits intentional disturbance of unmarked burial sites unless approval is granted by the Unmarked Burial Sites Preservation Board. The board consists of nine members and includes one representative from each of the four resident tribes in Kansas.

In summary, I am inviting you to provide me with any comments you may have concerning KDOT's proposal and my eligibility determination. I anticipate completion of our draft EIS in the spring of 2002. Your comments are requested within 45 days of the date of this letter to ensure that any issues identified by you will be considered prior to completion of our draft EIS. The draft EIS will be made available for public comment as soon as it has been completed.

If you have any questions or need additional information concerning this matter, please write to Mr. L. Cavin, Chief-Regulatory Branch, or contact Mr. R. Smith at 816-983-3656 (FAX 816-426-2321) or Robert.J.Smith@ nwk02.usace. army.mil. Additional information concerning this project is also available at www.southlawrencetrafficway.com.

Donald R. Curtis, Jr.
Colonel, Corps of Engineers
District Engineer