Archive for Sunday, May 10, 1992


May 10, 1992


Scratch the surface of most Lawrence neighborhood associations, and underneath you will find residents itching about local traffic.

Some residents fear an increase in traffic on their streets. Others say traffic moves too fast. Others find there isn't enough parking. For certain, local traffic gives residents a headache.

Most neighborhoods have a hot spot, most near schools or areas where children play.

Residents of the Pinckney neighborhood continually press the city for a traffic light at Sixth and Mississippi by Pinckney School.

The Prairie Meadows Homeowners Assn. supports lower speeds on Lawrence Avenue and creation of a pedestrian crosswalk across the street to Holcom Park.

Installation of three-way stop signs at the intersection of Eighth Street and Kasold Avenue was demanded by members of the West Perry Park neighborhood after the death of a boy at the intersection several years ago.

"The city commission brings up plans to take out the signs every so often, so we go back to city hall to make sure they don't," said Jim Pelham, president of the West Perry Park Neighborhood Assn.

"I KNOW IT'S an inconvenience for drivers on Kasold, but taking them out would be a real bear for the kids.''

Lawrence residents see new business or residential developments that could increase traffic as threats to the safety of their neighborhoods.

One of the prime concerns of the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. is new developments downtown that would breed more traffic on Sixth Street and Ninth Street.

As a result, motorists may choose to use quiet, residential side streets between the two busy traffic arteries as shortcuts, said George Heckman, OWL president.

Residents of other neighborhoods have mobilized to stop plans to widen roads, which they feel would make traffic more hazardous.

The city's plans to broaden Ninth Street to four lanes between Emery Road and Iowa Street about two years ago inspired residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood to form their neighborhood association.

"We had a meeting with the city commission and the engineering firm that was doing the road work, and they listened and for the most part responded," said Arthur Anderson, Hillcrest Neighborhood Assn. president.

THE CITY eventually curtailed its plans to simply widening a short portion of Ninth, mostly west of Emery.

"With four lanes, it would become a major thoroughfare," Anderson said. "We would have more and faster traffic. It would be harder for kids to cross to get to Hillcrest School."

Neighbors still are watching construction on the road carefully, to ensure workers don't widen more than planned, Anderson said.

For neighborhoods near Kansas University, the problems with cars don't stop once vehicles' wheels stop turning.

Representatives from the University Place and Oread neighborhoods report serious parking shortages during the day when students and employees of KU use their curbs instead of university parking lots.

"A lot of this neighborhood was laid out before we had cars," said Oread Neighborhood Assn. coordinator Jennifer Brown. "And now every student has a car, and that wasn't the case even 10 to 20 years ago."

The parking crunch has led to some residents parking on their front or side yards, which other residents consider an eyesore.

LAWRENCE city commissioners approved a draft of an ordinance Tuesday forbidding parking in setback areas on front and side yards. They will consider approving the law on first reading this Tuesday.

Residents in the neighborhood also scored a suprise victory Tuesday when commissioners answered their calls for a pedestrian-activated traffic signal at 17th and Massachussetts.

Residents near the intersection had complained for more than a year that traffic on Massachusetts zipped by too quickly and frequently to cross safely.

"I think the signal will help a lot," said Kyle Thompson, ONA president.

Anderson, who also chairs the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, provides some advice for city commissioners, who have the greatest say in planning traffic flow.

"We have to sit back and say, `Is the charm of the community increased or lessened by the speed of traffic?'" he said. "`Are we going to design the city for the one hour of the day when traffic is at its highest, or will we design our streets with the charm and safety of the neighborhoods as the guiding principle?'"

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