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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

WKD-Commuter Connection

October 7, 2001

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Meanwhile, people from surrounding communities drive into Lawrence to attend classes at Kansas University or to work at Lawrence businesses.

Their destinations and professions are as varied as the vehicles they drive. But they share at least one thing in common -- they're all commuters.

They navigate northeast Kansas highways through nasty weather, construction projects and traffic jams.

To alert commuters to potential traffic tie-ups, lead them to resources that might aid their daily drives and tell the stories of the very mobile lives they lead, the Journal-World introduces Commuter Connection.

Published weekly, the package will provide a map of construction projects and major events that might slow or impede commuters' normal routes. It also will include answers to readers' commuting-related questions.

This information often will be accompanied by a story that addresses commuter issues, such as what a typical day in the life of a commuter is like, important considerations when buying a commuter vehicle, or major roadwork that might hinder traffic flow on a main commuter artery.

Nearly a quarter of Lawrence's residents work outside town, according to an April poll commissioned by the Journal-World.

Part of Lawrence's draw as a so-called "bedroom" community, where many people live but don't work, is its location at the junction of major highways that lead to the nearby Topeka and Kansas City metro areas, said David Darling, a Kansas State University economist.

"That makes Lawrence a very appealing site," he said.

A 1999 survey found that about 9 percent of the Lawrence work force -- about 5,000 people -- commuted to jobs in Kansas City in 1998. Another 4 percent -- about 2,200 people -- headed the other direction for jobs in Topeka.

As Lawrence has grown, those numbers have more than doubled in some cases, according to the Journal-World's April survey.

It showed that 10.2 percent of Lawrence workers -- now almost 10,000 people -- commute to Kansas City. Another 6.1 percent -- about 6,100 people -- work in Topeka. An additional 7,100 people -- 7.1 percent -- work in Douglas County but outside Lawrence.

The average commute time on a typical day, according to the study, is 23.15 minutes.

And most of those commuters -- 88.2 percent -- drive alone.

Another 7.9 percent -- about 7,900 people -- carpool, 0.6 percent -- about 600 people -- use public transportation, and 3.3 percent -- about 3,300 people -- ride a bicycle.

Survey results are based on a simple random sample of Douglas County residents. The telephone survey was conducted from April 9 to April 30 by the Survey Research Center at Kansas University and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

-- Staff writer Mindie Paget can be reached at 832-7187.

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