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Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Public offers opinions to assist area transportation planning

August 20, 2002

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More emphasis needs to be placed on improving pedestrian walkways and public transit in Lawrence, city officials were told during a public meeting Monday night.

"I didn't hear anybody there speaking up for more and wider roads," said Bea Dewing, one of about 20 people who attended the meeting at East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St.

The meeting gave residents a chance to express their opinions on a final draft of Transportation 2025, the long-range transportation plan for Lawrence and the surrounding area.

"This has been a long, two-year process," said Bill Ahrens, Lawrence's transportation planner. "We have a lot of interest and needs to balance."

In fact, if all the public requests in planning for transportation growth were met, the cost would be an estimated $542 million.

The city doesn't have that kind of money to spend, Ahrens said.

"We're going to have to live with some (traffic) congestion," he said.

A transportation improvement plan would involve local, state and federal funds, Ahrens said.

"I think this shows that our needs far outstrip our ability to pay for it," said Larry Kipp, chairman of Friends of Douglas County, who also attended the meeting.

Although the plan calls for improvements to pedestrian walkways, several residents emphasized the need to vastly improve or rebuild sidewalks and crosswalks.

"I think that needs to be looked at near all of the schools," said Austin Turney, a member of the Lawrence school board.

"I do a lot of walking at night, and you take your life in your hands on some of these sidewalks," Dewing said.

Public transit requests include expanded routes and consideration of extending service into the county.

Carey Maynard-Moody, chairwoman of the Wakarusa Group Sierra Club, expressed concern about the plan being based on current land-use policy and not "what is best."

Linda Finger, city-county planning director, also attended the meeting. She and Ahrens will summarize comment from a series of public meetings and present it to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission for consideration at its Aug. 28 meeting.

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