The city's plans for East Seventh Street improvements differ from those approved earlier this year by the Lawrence City Commission.
The plans, approved on a 3-2 commission vote in July, showed five lanes marked for traffic where East Seventh intersects with New Hampshire Street. Engineering documents now, however, call for four lanes.
As approved by the commission, the road would be marked to include a pair of lanes for traffic heading east and three lanes for west-bound traffic: a right-hand turn lane, a through traffic lane and a left-hand turn lane. Instead, when the road improvements are completed, the three lanes for westbound traffic will be joined by a single, oversized lane for eastbound traffic.
"We've still got the same pavement width about 62 feet from back of the curbline to back of the curbline," George Williams, the city's public works director, said. "We've just made it easier for oversized trucks to make the left-hand turn off of New Hampshire onto Seventh."
Williams said he thought the commission approved the four-lane design when it acted in July. The two eastbound lanes, he said, were changed to accommodate the wishes of truck drivers who expressed concerns about making a turn into a tight area.
BUT A check with city commissioners showed on Monday that each thought the intersection still was going to be a five-lane scheme.
Mayor Bob Schumm said the plan was to expand the intersection by adding more lanes "three westbound and two eastbound." The rest of the commissioners also thought the same as Schumm.
Myles Schachter, who headed the Eastern Parkway Task Force, which helped come up with the Seventh Street plan, confirmed there was talk about the truckers' concern with making turns onto Seventh Street, but said he remembered the plan calling for five lanes of traffic.
City Manager Buford Watson said if there was a misunderstanding on the city's part, a stripe can be included to delineate a fifth lane instead of leaving the oversized eastbound lane.
"I know George Williams has tried to design it the way the commission talked about it. They can stripe it, if that's what they wanted to do," he said.
COMMISSIONER BOB Walters, who represented the tie-breaking vote on the Seventh Street improvements, said the stripe or lack of it doesn't matter much to him.
"As long as the road's the same width, I don't think it's that big of a deal," he said.
The intersection at Seventh and New Hampshire will be narrowed from its original width from 69 feet to 62 feet. That narrowing was included in the plans approved by the commission in July.
The road project was approved by the commission as a part of the city's plans for an eastern parkway, which would link downtown Lawrence via Seventh Street with Kansas Highway 10 near East Hills Business Park on the city's east side. As part of a compromise supported by East Lawrence and downtown representatives to the task force, the largest portion of Seventh Street was narrowed to allow for a more manageable traffic flow and landscaping along the parkway through residential areas that abut Seventh Street in East Lawrence.