A bucket of paint and a little less concrete for a few hundred feet.
Hillcrest neighborhood residents said Tuesday the changes they propose to Ninth Street boiled down to those two items. But Lawrence city commissioners put up a roadblock.
Commissioners rejected the changes despite protests from neighbors that current plans for reconfiguring Ninth Street west of Emery Road could bring fender-benders and traffic fatalities.
"The changes that are being suggested here are not modest," said Commissioner John Nalbandian. He said he didn't feel comfortable straying from current plans, designed to accepted engineering standards.
Mayor Bob Schulte said he would grab a bucket of paint and make the necessary changes if accidents occurred.
"I think that if at some point there was a problem, it would be possible to make the changes they are asking for," Schulte said.
Hillcrest residents challenged the alterations to Ninth Street currently under way. Contractors are working to widen a 500-foot section west of Emery Road.
Commissioners ordered the changes to increase the street's capacity and ease traffic from the east and west sides of the city, said Commissioner Bob Schumm.
ENGINEERS say the alterations also will create safer driving conditions on Ninth and better sight lines for drivers entering Ninth from Emery.
Crews will widen a 500-foot portion west of Emery to four lanes. A three-way traffic signal will be installed at Ninth and Emery.
When finished, the widened portion will taper to two lanes before Ninth intersects with Avalon Road.
Arthur Anderson, president of Hillcrest Neighborhood Assn., said residents fear westbound traffic will slow to a halt after the bottleneck due to various turnoffs up the street.
Evening drivers will be too busy jockeying for position in the merge and trying to avoid the glare of the setting sun to notice stalled traffic, Anderson said.
As a solution, residents proposed keeping the left lane on westbound Ninth at Emery a left-turn-only lane. That way, cars headed up Ninth would use the right lane and stay in line as the lanes merge.
BRINGING in the northern curb a couple feet also would let drivers know they soon must merge, Anderson said.
Mayor Bob Schulte said making drivers merge right before the intersection to avoid the left-turn-only lane would be more dangerous than merging to the left after Emery.
"It seems to me that this is just a more natural merge," he said.
Nalbandian said he thought the issue boiled down to providing access between downtown and new developments to the west.
"The difficulty here is that . . . we want growth in this city, at least that's manageable, and we want those people to go downtown, but we don't want to necessarily make it easy for them," Nalbandian said.
"You can't have all of these things. You have to make sacrifices, and maybe this is one of them," he said.
ANDERSON pointed to a memo from Terese Gorman, city engineer, which said the left-turn-only scenario would add only one second of delay for westbound traffic.
He also challenged Schulte's plans to make alterations if problems occur on Ninth. "Why wait for an accident?" Anderson said.
Commissioner Bob Schumm sided with the Hillcrest neighbors. "I don't think it's a major change."
Schumm moved to approve the changes suggested by the neighbors. His motion died for lack of a second from the other three commissioners.
Commissioner Bob Walters did not attend the meeting.