Congratulations to Lawrence city commissioners for taking the time to work through design issues related to the rebuilding of Kasold Drive between Bob Billings Parkway and Clinton Parkway. It is everyone's hope that such a project will not be repeated anytime soon, and it's important to try to get it right.
The only firm decision commissioners could reach after extended discussion Tuesday night, was to keep traffic moving on the street during construction. Closing the street entirely would have shortened the project to eight months instead of 15 and saved the city between $200,000 and $400,000, but keeping it open is the right decision. The dollar savings is relatively insignificant in a $3.7 million project and is offset by the losses businesses in the area could suffer during the construction period. Keeping the street open also may reduce traffic through neighborhoods west of Kasold.
Good questions have been raised about the street and the sidewalk/biking path adjacent to it. Although concerns have been raised about the grade of parts of the path, many other sidewalks in Lawrence have grades that are as steep or much steeper than the one on Kasold. People on bicycles, skateboards or other conveyances have to use some common sense. For those on foot, a sidewalk would provide an important link to neighborhood shopping areas and broader sidewalks on Clinton Parkway and Bob Billings Parkway.
Many ideas were discussed at Tuesday's meeting. One good one was to look into "incentivizing" an early completion date on the project by paying the contractor extra money for finishing more quickly. It's the reverse of the traditional penalty-for-being-late system and is worth considering.
The discussion of the rebuilt Kasold's design probably has stretched out much longer than commissioners and engineers expected and, perhaps, preferred, but the effort they are making to listen to neighborhood concerns and address design issues now will pay off in the long run by producing a better project for the community.