The Lawrence City Commission put the brakes on a plan that would place five lanes of traffic on yet another stretch of Sixth Street.
The commission, heeding the advice of a pair of neighborhood groups and a parent-teacher organization, decided there's no hurry to remove parking and add a center turn lane on Sixth between Maine and Tennessee streets.
Instead, the commission unanimously agreed to appoint a task force to study traffic flow, parking and safety problems on that corridor.
The task force will include representatives from the Pinckney School Parent-Teacher Organization, Pinckney Neighborhood Assn. and Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. Representatives of those groups met with commissioners both Tuesday night and at a study session a week ago to urge consideration of alternatives to the five-lane proposal.
KELLEY HAYDEN, representing PNA and Pinckney School PTO, repeated the groups' earlier assertions that a five-lane configuration would create more problems for Pinckney and Old West Lawrence residents and would create even greater safety hazards for school children who attend Pinckney.
He presented a list of options to address those safety concerns, including lowering the speed limit on Sixth Street, adding traffic signals at some of the intersections along Sixth and marking the area around Pinckney School as a school zone.
"Unless you can come up with a creative solution that addresses the concerns of those residents who fear for their children's safety, that addresses the concern of those residents who think the traffic speed is too high, that addresses the concerns of those residents who wish to retain their parking, and that addresses those residents who want to cross Sixth Street without risking their lives, we ask you to vote to keep Sixth Street as it is now: four lanes with parking from Maine to Tennessee," Hayden said.
FORMER CITY commissioner Dennis Constance, representing OWL, echoed Hayden's statements. "I'm here to urge you to leave it as it is now and to study the options, some of which I think would be useful," he said.
Commissioner Bob Walters pointed to the information developed by the 19th Street Task Force in forwarding a plan for improved traffic flow on that street. He suggested the city do the same for the Sixth Street corridor.
"I believe that the fifth turn lane would be a benefit to the community. . . However it seems to me that there is a lot of disagreement. There are also some other ideas that may have some merit. I'm in favor of the experiences we've had with the task force," Walters said.
Commissioner Mike Rundle said traffic on Sixth may change drastically with the opening of the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza, and said he saw no reason not to wait to study the effects of that development on Sixth Street traffic.
"RATHER THAN go to the five lanes right now, it seems to me we'll have plenty of opportunity to do that," he said. "It may turn out to be the wisest thing. The mall traffic may show us clearly that we need to do (the five-lane marking)."
City staff had recommended the five-lane reconfiguration be completed in tandem with a $185,000 asphalt overlay project for a nine-block portion of Sixth Street. That project is scheduled for this summer.