In response to a Kansas University traffic and parking situation that seems almost unbearable, officials have come up with an idea that could easily make it worse.
Long-time Lawrence residents particularly those employed by KU are well acquainted with the convoluted traffic patterns of Mount Oread. Those less well acquainted with the traffic patterns out-of-town visitors to the city, for instance have been known to simply avoid the whole campus area just to keep from getting tangled in traffic or lost.
The one sure way to get across campus, however, has always been Jayhawk Boulevard, the main drag stretching from the Kansas Union to the Chi Omega fountain. Granted, only limited access to the boulevard is allowed during weekdays, but at least in the evening, on weekends and often during the summer months, it provides a relatively direct route through the main campus along with access to some of the major campus buildings.
Now the university is considering closing Jayhawk Boulevard for several blocks in front of Strong Hall. One proposal calls for traffic flow to simply be reduced on the stretch of street. Another proposal calls for Jayhawk Boulevard to be closed completely from Sunflower Drive to Poplar Drive, just west of Strong Hall. Buses and other vehicles would be rerouted onto a new street behind Strong Hall, while the old Jayhawk Boulevard would be turned over to pedestrians.
There's little argument that enrollment growth at KU has caused problems in this congested area of campus, but there must be other solutions. Would traffic signals that started and stopped pedestrian flow across the street help the situation? Has any consideration been given to such solutions as a raised walkway over the street? If the committee studying the problem believes the only solution is to halt traffic on Jayhawk Boulevard all together, maybe such a step could be taken only during the day, so the street could be reopened for evening and weekend traffic.
There's no magic action. The Jayhawk Boulevard situation may call for some creative solutions. Closing the street completely seems like a drastic and wrong response.