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Archive for Friday, January 31, 1992

CITY STUDY FOLLOWS PEDESTRIAN DEATH

January 31, 1992

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City officials, nearby residents and traffic engineers today are scrutinizing the intersection where an 86-year-old resident of Babcock Place Apartments was struck and killed by a car Wednesday.

Apartment residents asked the city several times in the past year to provide some kind of traffic control at the intersection at 17th and Massachusetts to make it safer for elderly residents to cross.

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the Lawrence City Commission rejected a request for a crosswalk at the intersection. Since then, the city had been studying solutions for the intersection but had not taken any action, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.

Theresa Knight, 86, was trying to cross Massachusetts Street just south of 17th Street when she was struck by a Plymouth Reliant headed north on Massachusetts, according to police reports. The accident occurred Wednesday night.

She later died at Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., from head injuries she suffered in the accident.

Mrs. Knight's obituary appears on page 9A.

Jennifer Brown, Oread Neighborhood Assn. coordinator, said she submitted an application to the city this morning requesting funds from the city's non-motorized transportation budget for a pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection.

ONA made the same request last January, but it was denied. ONA's current request had been in the works before the accident occurred, Brown said.

"I GUESS we're going to fight for it pretty hard now," said Brown. "It's just so sad that this had to happen."

Last year's request for the pedestrian-activated signal was not supported by the city's Traffic Safety Commission, which reviews requests for non-motorized transportation budget funds and makes recommendations to the city commission, said Terese Gorman, city engineer.

"The TSC didn't even rank the request because they didn't feel it was necessary," said Gorman. Traffic counts at the intersection didn't meet standards for installing a light, she said.

Gorman said she didn't have a sense of whether Wednesday's accident would sway the TSC members. The TSC will consider the request at its Feb. 10 meeting.

If the TSC recommends the signal to the commission and commissioners approve the request, the earliest the light could go up would be July 1993, Gorman said.

Meanwhile, an engineer from Johnson, Brickell, Mulcahy and Associates, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm, was scheduled to meet with Gorman this afternoon to examine three problem intersections, including 17th and Massachusetts.

AS PART of a Kansas Department of Transportation program, the engineer will try to find solutions to problems at 17th and Massachusetts, 15th and Engel Road, and 15th and Monterey Way.

The city had applied for assistance through the program before Wednesday's accident, according to Wildgen.

"The reason for the study is for (the engineer) to make an analysis of the intersection and make a recommendation on how to solve the problem," said Gorman. "We're not asking him how to put a signal in."

The engineer probably will start work on the project immediately, Gorman said, but may work on all three intersections at once instead of first reporting on 17th and Massachusetts.

The city has not planned any other action regarding the intersection beyond waiting for the engineer's report, Wildgen said.

"I definitely want to see what they have to say," he said.

Potential solutions for providing safer crossing include an elevated crossing and a traffic light, he said.

WILDGEN QUESTIONED the need for a signal at the intersection just for pedestrian crossings. "It's almost too much of a control," he said.

Ruth Morris, president of the Babcock Tenants Assn., said she plans to take a group of Babcock residents to the Feb. 11 commission meeting and demand installation of a traffic signal.

"We're going to have a light here, and we aren't going to give up until we get one," she said.

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