Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

City may adjust Sixth Street speeds

40 mph likely to be upper limit west of Kasold

February 16, 2006

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Not only is the speed limit set to remain at 40 mph on a widened stretch of West Sixth Street, but the speed limit farther to the east may come down a bit, too.

Kansas Department of Transportation spokesman Joe Blubaugh said Wednesday that the state is considering lowering the 45 mph speed limit that exists on Sixth Street between Comet Lane and Folks Road. That way, it would match the 40 mph limit recently put into place farther to the west at the scene of a soon-to-be-finished $8 million road-widening project.

Speed limits on the western end of Sixth Street have been a hot topic lately, with many drivers complaining that they've been stopped and ticketed on the way in and out of town. Some drivers say the 40 mph "work zone" speed limit between Wakarusa Drive and Kansas Highway 10 is too low, given that the work in the area is almost done and is on hiatus until spring.

But state officials say drivers should get used to the idea of slowing traffic on what once was a rural highway.

"When it came right down to it, this project was designed for 40 mph," Blubaugh said. "KDOT made that decision with a lot of feedback from the city."

But Blubaugh wouldn't rule out the possibility that the speed limit in the area may change again in the future. Once all the work is done on the project - something expected to happen in May - KDOT will conduct a traffic study to see how fast people actually are driving through that stretch of road.

So far, the 40 mph limit has taken some getting used to. Lawrence Police issued 359 speeding tickets in the work zone in January - roughly 36 percent of all speeding tickets issued citywide during the same period.

In the past year, the number of tickets given in the work zone has varied widely from month to month. In November, for example, there were 47 speeding tickets in the area, representing 6 percent of the speeding tickets issued citywide. In June, there were 287 speeding tickets in the area, or 30 percent of the tickets issued citywide.

Police say the department's traffic officers initially began running radar in the area at the request of KDOT crews, but since then they've made it part of their regular patrols. Traffic patrols often focus on the city's entrances, police say, whether it's Kansas Highway 10, the southern end of Iowa Street or North Second Street.

"The purpose of this enforcement is to slow drivers down as they enter the city to protect the safety of the citizens of Lawrence," LPD spokeswoman Kim Murphree said. "As development continues in the area of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive, this west entrance to the city may see an increase in traffic flow, which may result in an increase in traffic violations."

Last year, the city collected $2.8 million from traffic fines and court fees, compared with an overall city budget of $125 million. Assistant City Manager David Corliss said that despite some residents' perceptions, generating money isn't a factor when the city decides how to enforce traffic laws.

"We don't do it to balance the $125 million budget," he said. "We do it because enforcing traffic laws is a teaching moment for all drivers that we need to be careful as we drive and follow the traffic laws."

6News reporter Laura McHugh contributed information to this article.

Comments

Sandman 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure there is SOME kind of conspiracy here.

Can you liberals help me figure it out?

bmwjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Simple-- this is our punishment for complaining. My advice to everyone is to smile and be happy with what you've got now-- there's a 30 mph zone coming to your work commute soon.

I'm sorry city of Lawrence. Please don't be angry with me.

neopolss 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, if that 2.8 million generated doesn't really help so much, why collect it at all? Gotcha there!

mcoan 9 years, 4 months ago

Definition of "Liberal" in the minds of a Republican: ANYONE who doesn't support President Bush and the status quo.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 4 months ago

There will be a lot of housing construction in that west 6th area for a while so the slower speed is warranted. All of those new residents will soon turn the area to congestion and a 30mph zone. Additional shopping is also scheduled for the area. Congestion is the order of the day. Developers love it.

This same approach needs to be applied going east on 23rd till east of East Hills Business Park. Begin the slower speed limit east of East Hills heading west into Lawrence. Too many accidents at this area. Have the big trucks of asphalt find another way to enter K10.

average 9 years, 4 months ago

The reasoning for this is simple. The PD wants to get X number of speeding tickets per day/week/month. There's not a street in this city, where, if you ran radar 24/7, you couldn't pop your quota of speeders.

The reason west Sixth is targeted is because with the new improvements, it has become the safest street in town to flash your lights and pull someone over. Four lanes, shoulders, turn lanes, not overcrowded yet plenty of ducks.

Certainly preferable (if you're a cop) to trying to stop speeders on 23rd, Naismith, Tenn/Ky, etc. Simply startling a driver on those streets might cause an accident, and you'd be more likely to be plowed into while writing the ticket.

craigers 9 years, 4 months ago

slowing down isn't going to be that big of a deal. the busier the area gets the more it needs to be at 40mph.

craigers 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh yes, I am sure this is all about cops meeting their quotas.

badger 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm pretty sure it's nonpartisan.

Have they had a lot of accidents along that stretch of road? Have they determined that 45 is an unsafe speed?

The article says this is potentially going to be done so it 'matches' the other speed limit. Are they going to get it a coordinating bag and shoes, too?

moveforward 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought that the speed limits were supposed to be based on a formula involving the average speed currently traveled on that road?

LogicMan 9 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately ... I agree that the speed limit on western 6th street needs to be reduced to 40 MPH. Too much traffic there to be safe at 45 ...

And while they are at it, Wakarusa Drive also needs reducing to 40 MPH because of increased traffic and crossings.

Also ... southern Iowa Street now has too many undecided shoppers to be safe at 45 -- it too needs lowering to 40 MPH.

And put a stop sign at the tee on that northern access road to Target, as well as change the yield sign to a stop sign from the trailer park street to the south side of Target.

While we are at it ... northbound Iowa Street needs a right turn lane onto eastbound 19th to handle those early-morning high school folk. And a 'no turn on red' sign for westbound 19th on to Iowa.

A right turn lane from Iowa to the SLT is desperately needed too.

And 'just say no' to those little traffic circles southeast of KU. Rip them out and put in four-way stops. But the new, big traffic circles seem to work fairly well, IMHO. Expensive, however.

I'm rolling now ... don't build a new library downtown! What a waste. Instead, build moderate sized branches in east and far west Lawrence -- that's where the needy people are. A small juco/votec school would help greatly too.

Do the powers-that-be, including the LJW, read this stuff, or are we wasting time and bandwidth?

field_ump 9 years, 4 months ago

I think the limit will stay at 40 west of Wakarusa. They say they're going to do a study to see how fast ppl are going? Well, they're going to be going 40 for fear of being ticketed, so the study is going to produce nothing. We're being oppressed by the man.

countrygirl 9 years, 4 months ago

If they set the speed limit based on the average speed traveled, then how high would the speed limit on K-10 be? 85?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 4 months ago

At a library meeting the consultant implied that library branches are inefficient.

Those small KU traffic calming devices are temporary. I do not recall what the ultimate plan is. I avoid that area.

Yes to a JUCO/VO-TECH.

LogicMan 9 years, 4 months ago

Library branches: Efficiency isn't that important, but effectiveness should be. Having branches near the needy worked great where I'm originally from. Literacy programs were emphasized. I should have gone to more ...

Anyone know how to start a JuCo/Vo-Tech without much city funding?

Calming devices: let's just remove them and stick in the four-way stops. Cheap and fast to do.

glockenspiel 9 years, 4 months ago

Slowing traffic actually increases traffic. Commute times get longer, therefore you spend more time on the road. As a result, there are more vehicles on the road at any given time.

Thats my 2 dollars worth.

imagold 9 years, 4 months ago

That does it. If they're going to base the speed limit on how fast the majority drives a stretch of road, I'm going to quit being goody two-shoes doing the speed limit and see if going 50 will get the speed back up where it should be on 6th west of Wakarusa.

Note to powers that be: folks are driving 40-45 from Kasold to at least Iowa on 6th street. Up the speed limit, please.

bugmenot 9 years, 4 months ago

Sandman: I'm sure if there really was a conspiracy old shotgun and daddy's boy would be right there trying to cover up things, then blame it on the victims.

bankboy119 9 years, 4 months ago

merrill, I would have to disagree. Since up in KC now I think it's great that I have a branch right next to me and they can get any book in. Yes I may have to wait a week and a half to get the book but I can still get the one that I wanted. If I wanted to drive 15 min I could get the book that night but that's my choice. The parking is a lot better and it's not as crowded either.

And this does sound like giving cops a way to meet their quota easier. That's why you see so many of them out there, not because it's dangerous.

born1980 9 years, 4 months ago

This is as worthless as adding lanes to a highway. People think it eases traffic, but within a few years the volume increases to offset the additional lanes.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 4 months ago

You would think that the dingbats driving on the new section of W.6th would start slowing down to 40 after seeing all of these people getting pulled over. I guess logic isn't a common virtue in Lawrence.

blessed3x 9 years, 4 months ago

That's pure genius born1980!!

...so by your logic if we would just stop building bigger schools and new neighborhoods, the population of the nation would remain static.

sheesh!

tpatric 9 years, 4 months ago

Is this why the city needed to increase the budget for more uniformed police? If they weren't giving out tickets to those incorrigible commuters would they be available to cover the downtown area at night? Overland Park has a special division on their PD that gives out parking tickets in the shopping center and office parking lots...is that next?

OK, I'll have a hot cup of cocoa now.

girly 9 years, 4 months ago

They're using it as a speed trap and don't want to admit it. I drive that road everyday and a couple weeks ago there were 4 cop cars between Wakarusa and the by-pass. I'm all for safe roads and reasonable speeds, but it is hard staying at 40 mph on a hilly highway. You pretty much have to use cruise control.

RonBurgandy 9 years, 4 months ago

Multi - that's driving 45 on USLT, you know, unfinished...

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 4 months ago

Girly: I don't think they are making any unclear statements about it. They (the LPD) have said that their traffic units make it a regular part of their patrols. I don't think that falls under the classification of "They're using it as a speed trap and don't want to admit it."

Godot 9 years, 4 months ago

"Do the powers-that-be, including the LJW, read this stuff, or are we wasting time and bandwidth?"

The LJW staff do. This is where they get ideas for news stories and editorials.

born1980 9 years, 4 months ago

Its not my logic. There have been a lot of studies that prove this fact. If you're simply widening congested roadways with the idea you'll get rid of congestion, that's naive. http://www.ajfroggie.com/roads/articles/traffic-theory2.htm

joepublic 9 years, 4 months ago

FYI to all, The DGSO, LPD, and KHP all write lots of speeding tickets in all areas of their jurisdiction. I have read posts about the SO sitting on 59 and K10. I have read about "speed traps", "quotas", etc. Beleive it or not, it is about public safety. If one fails to obey the speed limit on 6th, what else do they ignore? Would you all prefer that the LEOs not do anything? Think of the chaos that could allow. Personally speaking since I am a LEO, criminals drive and get arrested for being stopped for traffic infractions. Think what would happen if we took a year off. Road rage would grow out of control.

Most drivers do obey the laws for the most part and it sometimes is an inconvienence for us at time to drive within the limits of the law. On 6th st going 40 vs 55 from Wakarusa to K-10 it would take a person only a few seconds longer, not an eternity.Those few seconds can save you $$. The minimum ticket that the SO and KHP can write will cost you $90.

I attended a meeting about K10 at East Hills business park and I suggested lowerng the speed limit, but those who make the decisons said "No". So, go figure, we all can't be happy.

We all have the responsiblity to drive safe and defensively within the limits of the law whether or not we agree with it.

Ok, I am done now!!!

justthefacts 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the heads up grad student. I have to drive that part of 6th street everyday, picking up my car pool riders - and I envision 1000 cars going 50+ on that stretch of road, back and forth, till the police just faint from giving out so many tickets....and then the court system has to process them all because everyone agrees to contest the tickets... Yea, that's going to work. Not. But still, from a practical point, it is difficult to keep a 4 cylinder car at 40 going down that big hill....you have to ride your breaks a lot....

blessed3x 9 years, 4 months ago

born1980, I will concede that better roadways draw more traffic (because the alternatives sometimes suck, if there are alternatives) however your original statement was WAY off base.

The article stated "every 10 percent expansion in roads led directly to a 3.3 percent rise in the number of vehicles driving on them." WOW!! Seems like a pretty good deal to me. Hardly worthless. Not only that but it stated that much of the increased traffic was due to development of roadside commercial establishments. What about interstates where this can't happen? Or places like Lawrence that run developers with big ideas out of town on a rail?

Besides in the area of town we are talking about, the widening is a safety issue (left turn lanes, shoulders, passing areas) not a congestion issue. The statement you gave was extremely poorly thought out and irresponsible in that much expansion is taking place in that part of town. NOT to have done anything would have led to dangerous intersections and another roadway that can't handle the traffic wishing to use it. This is a roadway of necessity NOT convenience.

Godot 9 years, 4 months ago

md wrote, "And they wonder why people use the neighborhoods to get where they need to go. "

People detour through neighborhoods because there are so many traffic calming, traffic impeding, devices on the streets that used to be used as thoroughfares. The more roundabouts, pedestrian stations and speed bumps the city erects, the more traffic will be diverted to neighborhood streets.

Godot 9 years, 4 months ago

I get the feeling that the City wants people with cars to just go away.

gccs14r 9 years, 4 months ago

"On 6th st going 40 vs 55 from Wakarusa to K-10 it would take a person only a few seconds longer, not an eternity."

Making a 1.5 mile trip last an extra 35 seconds is an eternity*. Multiply it out by an actual distance, for instance from Haskell to Metcalf, and reduce K-10's speed limit by the 27% that 6th Street's limit was reduced by, and that "few seconds longer" turns into 12 minutes--if everything goes perfectly. What it means in the real world is that a trip to KC would take an hour instead of the half-hour it takes now.

*It's worse than that, because before it was being strictly enforced, people were free to run up to about 65. Now people have to keep it nailed on 40 since you guys are so vigilant out there, so the real-world speed drop is 39%. What could have been done legally in 96 seconds and was routinely done in as few as 81 now takes 131. Now there will be more time tacked on as that pokealong limit is stretched to Folks. I expect to hear about more accidents through that stretch, not fewer, as folks bunch up and jockey for position, trying to gain that time back by making as many lights as they can.

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