Problems and concerns expressed by neighbors about improvements proposed for a half-mile stretch of Ninth Street can, for the most part, be remedied, a project engineer says.
Ric Johnson, project manager for Wilson & Co., Olathe, answered a series of questions posed by residents during an August meeting with the Lawrence City Commission and residents of the affected area. At that meeting, Wilson & Co. recommended widening Ninth to three lanes between Emery Road and Iowa Street in order to accommodate increased traffic.
In addition to the road widening, which would allow a center turn lane, engineers are calling for "flattening" portions of the crest on Ninth. Their plan also calls for closing the small spur that carries vehicles from northbound Iowa to eastbound Ninth.
RESIDENTS FROM the Hillcrest neighborhood, which surrounds the area of proposed improvements, raised concerns about school children crossing the street, the impact of the widening on existing trees, the effect of the road flattening on foundations of houses lining the street, access to side streets off Ninth and the lack of a loading zone for bus traffic.
In a letter to Public Works Director George Williams released over the weekend, Johnson indicated that those concerns can be addressed.
He said that further investigation will verify if a school beacon is warranted for the street and where it should be placed. Likewise, he said the Lawrence Bus Co. will be contacted to discuss various locations for safe loading and unloading of bus passengers.
A number of residents lamented the prospect of trees falling victim to any road widening, but Johnson said that alternatives will be reviewed "to minimize and if possible, prevent the taking of trees, flowers and shrubs."
Owners of homes on Ninth between Avalon and Sunset expressed apprehension about their foundations being able to withstand any flattening of the road. Johnson, however, said that he recommends a geotechnical engineering study be completed before any construction began to help reassure the homeowners.
JOHNSON ALSO said that the addition of the turn lane would improve safety for vehicles turning on or off Ninth. For example, the flattening of the grade on Ninth would require regrading of the approaches on side streets.
At the August meeting, one resident suggested that the city only improve Ninth at Iowa and at Emery, and leave the remainder of the corridor intact. That proposal, Johnson said, does not address safety issues that the city wants to correct.
"The city could treat both ends and leave the middle alone, but this would be a capacity solution only. To improve the numerous safety deficiencies along the corridor, the horizontal/vertical alignment should be improved along with the addition of turning lanes," he said.
The Hillcrest Neighborhood Assn. will meet at 8 p.m. Thursday to discuss the Ninth Street proposals, and it has invited commissioners and City Manager Mike Wildgen to attend.
In the meantime, Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith said she will ask the commission at its Tuesday meeting how it wants to proceed with the project. Wildgen said that if the commission wants to see the Ninth Street improvements in 1991, its decision should be made sometime this autumn.