Archive for Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Projects await funding

City may add 13th Street to list that totals $645,000

February 28, 2006


Love 'em or hate 'em, this much can be said with certainty about traffic-calming devices: Lawrence has a growing list of ones scheduled to be built.

The list - already at more than $600,000 worth of projects awaiting funding - may get longer tonight as city commissioners receive a report recommending items such as traffic circles and speed humps for 13th Street between Connecticut Street and Haskell Avenue.

"It is a wide open road," said D. White, who has been living along the street for 18 years. "There's nothing to slow people down, and people are taking advantage of it. I think we need to do what we can to protect 13th Street as a residential street."

A study compiled for traffic safety commissioners - who recommended the project at their meeting earlier this month - found that average speeds on some stretches of the 30-mph street were 49 mph. Other stretches of the street had average speeds closer to 35 mph.

But if city commissioners concur with the recommendation from traffic safety commissioners, that doesn't mean the new traffic-calming devices will get built anytime soon.

Just ask Chris Davis. He and his neighbors along Carmel Drive have been on the list of approved projects since summer 2004. But commissioners have yet to find the $72,000 needed to build six speed humps.

"It is frustrating," Davis said. "The decision was made that they were needed for safety reasons. My concern is there are so many little kids on this street. It seems like we're putting a price tag on an accident that is going to happen."

In total, there are approved projects for nine other areas of town. Some have been on the approved list since 2003. City Commissioner Mike Amyx isn't sure that he can tell residents that the projects will get built anytime soon. He said it is tough for him to justify spending money on new traffic-calming devices when many of the city's existing streets need repair.

"It seems to me that we have to get the streets themselves fixed first," Amyx said. "We have to talk about what order we do things in.

"And there's still a lot of talk out in the community about whether these devices are doing any good."

David Woosley, the city's traffic engineer, said he thought a good case could be made that the devices are working as planned. He said the most recent and biggest project included a series of traffic circles and speed humps on Harvard Road in west Lawrence. He said they've been well received by neighbors.

"All the comments we have received from people who live along the road have been positive," Woosley said. "Now, we get some negative comments from people who just drive through, but I suspect that's because they don't want to slow down. But that's the point."

Specific designs for the 13th Street project haven't been created. Woosley said he'd work with neighbors to develop plans if the project receives funding.

Commissioners likely won't tackle the issue of how to fund the list of projects at tonight's meeting. The item is part of their consent agenda, which normally doesn't draw much discussion. Instead they are being asked to consider the issue during their 2007 budget considerations this summer.

City's approvals for traffic-calming

City's approvals for traffic-calming

But there is some support on the commission to get aggressive about funding the projects. Mayor Boog Highberger said he would like the city to adopt a three-year funding plan, beginning in 2007, to tackle all the projects.

"We need to make sure our streets are safe for kids and bicyclists, not to mention other people driving cars," Highberger said.


The_Voice_of_Reason 11 years, 9 months ago

O Joy.... more crap in the road.... Considering that I saw a couple with two kids out walking along W 24th st. in front of Felony Woods last NIGHT with the mother walking in the sreet pushing a stroler with a small child in it up the wrong side of the road and the dad walking on the side walk 3 FEET AWAY! I think Lawrence should spend some time and money teaching the public pedestrian safety... or get rid of the stupid people in this town... either one works for me.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 9 months ago

49 mph is way too fast. We could hire more law enforcement but that cost would be with us forever. This portion of 13th is also a travel way for two wheel chair people. The sidewalks are impossible to navigate in wheel chair.

The Department of Transportaion provides designs and guidelines for traffic calming devices. These devices are encouraged because they allow traffic to keep moving.

It has been reported by one neighborhood person that the Louisiana "islands" have in fact accomplished the desired results which was to slow traffic according to test results.

Again we could hire more law enforcement but that cost would be with us forever and cost a ton more. Growth does not come for free and neighborhoods do not want their streets used for speeding traffic. Speeding drivers are the problem not traffic calming devices.

It was determined years ago that a bypass will not affect 23rd for instance due to thousands of new residents. New people are in a hurry to get somewhere thus traffic calming by request. Traffic lights are very expensive. New law enforcement is expensive. Yes growth is very expensive in general.

neopolss 11 years, 9 months ago

Roundabouts are are very costly way of solving problems. There is no conservation of money with these commissioners. Here's a cheaper solution that will work for awhile - stop signs. Yes, place a few of those along your street and people get annoyed very quickly. Pretty soon they stop coming down that street.

Sandman 11 years, 9 months ago

We could always ask ourselves why people are using this road at all.

The answer? The main arteries that are supposed to carry traffic are clogged.

Two ways to fix the problem of drivers using side streets.

1) Make more main arteries and make the existing ones work better (turn lanes, medians, widen the road).

2) Make the side streets even more of a pain in the *ss to drive on than the main roads are.

Guess which small-town, small-minded solution our city commission is taking.

supermel718 11 years, 9 months ago

I drive down 13th street everyday, twice a day. Yes, you see the occasional car flying down the road, but most of the traffic is fairly calm. Every street will have traffic speeding through, because some people love to speed. Those that are driving 49mph down the road will continue to do it elsewhere if you put calming devices on 13th, say 11th st. Are we going to spend the money to "calm" down every street in town because a few people like to drive fast? It seems cheaper to have someone patroling this area heavily for a while. If they get several tickets for driving like a bat out of hell, then they will either slow down, or take another route. Problem solved, 13th street is safe again.

mcoan 11 years, 9 months ago

The article didn't mention roundabouts once, only the posters did.

Bring in the emotion, ignore the scientific facts! It's a Kansas tradition.

I bet if you lived on a rez street where people were driving 19 mph over the limit, you folks would be the first to complain. How pitful. But I expect nothing less...

spikey_mcmarbles 11 years, 9 months ago

Is there enough concensus among the public to tell the city to put a temporary moratorium on building traffic calming devices?

I'm starting to worry about Lawrence, especially when I read about the sewer problem in the NW side of town, that 31% of our streets need complete rebuilding, that we can't figure out where to build a new water treatment plant, etc etc.

Perhaps the city should place a funding moratorium on non-essential projects, like parks, the new library, sculptures, and roundabouts, and increase funding for infrastructure.

Cait McKnelly 11 years, 9 months ago

I have not spoken to a single person in this city who likes the roundabouts. They call them "traffic calming devices". I call them "bullt". Over a half million dollars of tax payers money is being proposed to put these things in when they could put a stop sign at every corner at a tenth of the cost. This is MY money and YOUR money they are talking about spending. The city council says it gives the city a "European" ambience. Again I say "bullt." This is not Lawrenceshire, England or St. Lawrence, France. It's Lawrence, KANSAS. The truth is, the city wants to FORCE people to use 6th and 23rd to get across the city and use no other streets for cross town traffic. The bottlenecks on these streets at rush hour are already horrendous. Let's just make them a bumper to bumper parking lot. I intend to find out which members of the City Council have proposed and supported these things and I promise I will actively campaign against them in the elections based solely on this reason. It's time for some hard nosed practicality.

mseybold 11 years, 9 months ago

I like roundabouts. It's better than having to stop completely at a 4-way stop.

Sandman 11 years, 9 months ago

I agree mseybold, but if given the choice between a $500,000 roundabout a four $100 stop signs -- which would you choose?

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey, Marion, how many more threads you gonna copy and paste that post into?

Mmmm, original content. We loves it, yes we do.

Of course, tis easier, I suppose, to just spam the board with Ctrl+V.

gaiapapaya 11 years, 9 months ago

Of course the city is trying to force people to use the main streets. That's where cars belong. If drivers who cut through neighborhoods would drive safely and respectfully then it would not be an issue.

Cars fly down east 13th and 11th, and the kids who attend New York are left to fend for themselves while crossing the street. There is one painted crosswalk for kids to use on 11th, but no light to make cars stop, and a crossing guard is not an option because New York has before and after school programs that go from 7:00a.m. til 6:00p.m. This means that it is dark when some kids go to and from school in the winter months. It's not unusual to wait 5 minutes to cross 11th street in the morning. It is the rare motorist who will stop to let people cross the street when the car has the right -of-way.

But of course, David Woosley thinks that a push-button crosswalk (of which the city has plenty stored from the ones removed from Mass a few years back) will just never work for our children or, any resident. He feels cars just won't bother to stop.

The city seriously needs to do some work in the old east lawrence area to chill out the speeds over here. I would love to see a police officer with a radar gun on 11th once or twice a week in the morning or afternoon. Do the same on 13th, and people will stop tearing through there. It doesn't have to be permenant, but just having a patrol car parked makes people slow down. If some of these people get tickets, they'll probably not mind the extra 1 minute it will take to go the speed limit down these stretches of road instead of a hefty fine.

lunacydetector 11 years, 9 months ago

how many millions have been spent on roundabouts in lawrence????????

it is a subtle but effective way our city commission is showing their dictatorial mindset.....control, control, control.....

ps. people use side streets to navigate through town because 23rd street and iowa street is filled with passing through motorists because we are lacking a bypass.

the real solution to speeding motorists is to hire more police (at a fraction of the cost), but the retread hippies (political activists) don't like having public safety.

KsTwister 11 years, 9 months ago

And I thought Bush was bad about blowing taxpayer dollars like there was no tomorrow to pay for things. I do have one firm message: To keep kids safe- teach them! We grew up with muscle cars racing down roads and we learned. One of these days Big Brother is going to have to make people responsible for themselves without trying to "protect" everyone and everything. If KDOT would not give allotments for some of this stuff then maybe this would stop too. Otherwise, name each bump after a commissioner so we can remember who wanted these things we pay for. Obviously our city is not taking care of the big picture and trying to appease smaller problems that are the result.

admills 11 years, 9 months ago

OR..... we could build more narrow streets and line them with tall shade trees (oak, maple, etc.) The perception of closeness and encapsulation slows traffic. That's why people don't speed on those old, narrow roads (yet they still meet the lane width ordinance).

ProudestMonkey 11 years, 9 months ago

Wow, roundabout bashing, never saw it coming. It's funny how everyone becomes expert traffic engineers everytime a traffic article is written. Keep entertaining me....

gaiapapaya 11 years, 9 months ago

I think most parents do teach their kids to stay out of hte street, but some parents can't or won't walk their kids to school. And those parents that don't take responsiblity?Are we supposed to let kids go on survival of the fittest?

I'm just speaking about early morning E11th st here, but it is difficult for a child to determine how quickly a car is approaching when it's dark or near dark. Not to mention that a car can't see a child waiting to cross in the dark.

And stop signs do work, you just have to be willing to have officers write a few tickets or park at an interseciton a few times and people will get into the habit of stopping at stop signs. Sometimes an officer telling someone that they didn't stop all the way is enough for a person to pay more attention to all stop signs and traffic rules.

gaiapapaya 11 years, 9 months ago

Well, 11th will always be busy. Much of the early morning traffic can be attributed to city vehicles. It's also wide and set up to handle traffic, but people do tear down the street way too fast.

I will admit that I cut through neighborhoods all the time. The main streets suck. They are pot hole ridden and traffic flow is a joke. I also drive slowly, and slow way down at uncontrolled intersections in neighborhoods to make sure no one is coming. It is frustrating to see basketball goals set up in the street for kids to play on, instead of moving cars out of the driveway, but kids learn from what they see, and it's not their fault if they play in the street when no one tells them differently.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Let me get this straight. Two people in wheel chairs who use 13th because the sidewalks are a mess feel endangered by speeding cars, so the solution is to spend thousands on speed bumps? Why not just fix the sidewalks?

akuna 11 years, 9 months ago

I love the roundabouts. They are an effective and, in the long-term, cheap way of keeping traffic safely moving. I say build more of them. The people that are too set in their ways will learn how to use them and see that they are a very practical solution. Keep up the good work city commission.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Merrill states that one person who lives on Louisiana says the the pedestrian islands are working, as though that is proof. "One person says..."

If that is an example of the type of data the Traffic Safety Commission uses to make decisions about traffic projects, no wonder we are in such a mess.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Lots of argument by hysterically making sh*t up, as usual.

A couple of points to make-- roundabouts do not cost millions of dollars to construct. The one proposed (but decided against) at 19th and La. was estimated at $250,000. I'm not sure what the one at 19th and Barker cost, but it most certainly wasn't the million dollars or more someone posted above, although I'm sure all those hysterically bad drivers who can't figure out the relatively simple rules of using roundabouts will likely latch onto it as "fact."

And for all of you clamoring to spend millions of dollars (from where you never say) to replace the entire sewer system of the city have conveniently forgotten that a good deal of the work at 19th and Barker was making improvements to sewer and water lines there.

And one of the stupidest notions is that putting stop signs in instead of roundabouts will have the same effect for less money.

Sure, it might save some money, but guess what a vehicle's speed is (or is supposed to be) at a stop sign? For those of you out there who are mathematically challenged, it's 0, as in zero, a dead standstill.

Traffic calming devices are designed to slow traffic down without creating bottlenecks, which are exactly what stop signs would produce.

Try thinking a little before you type, folks.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 years, 9 months ago

Personally I like the circle on Barker. I'm never waiting in a long line of cars, like when the 4way stop signs were there. I don't like it when someone who isn't smart enough to use it comes through. They just sit there going "duh, where do I go now?" It isn't rocket science. We want speed bumps on Mass in the Breezedale neighborhood to protect our kids from Haskell students being like all young inexperienced drivers without kids. They drive too damn fast. Yes, it would be cheaper to hire a patrol officer, but they can't be there all day, and nowdays anything goes as long as you don't get caught. Why not go 50 in a 30? I'm smarter than safety engineers. I can drive like a race car diver. I drive great when I go too fast. Craaashhh. Someone elses fault, not mine. I never make mistakes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

The drivers who don't know how to drive through roundabouts are the same drivers who don't know how to drive through 4-way stops, either. The fact that we have so many bad drivers on the roads is not a good argument for sticking with antiquated road designs.

And while we may need to put more traffic cops on the streets, we can never have enough to stop every driver who commits an infraction. Road design it still one of the most effective, and cost-effective, ways of encouraging safe driving.

Sandman 11 years, 9 months ago

People will usually drive the path of least resistance.

They use 27th Street to get from Louisiana Street to Iowa Street because it lets them avoid the zoo on 23rd Street.

They cut down 25th Street to get from Haskell to Harper to avoid 23rd Street.

They use 13th Street to get from Barker to Haskell to avoid the messy intersection at 15th and Barker.

And they use Harvard to get from Kasold/Monterey Way to Wakarusa to avoid 6th Street.

We need to get traffic off of the main streets and make them driveable again. People would use these main streets if they were the quickest route.

We should focus our time, and money, making 6th/23rd/31st Street driveable again.

blessed3x 11 years, 9 months ago

The answer is, of course....

...MORE ART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The_Voice_of_Reason 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey Bowhunter... lets go price a few bags of Quickcrete, wheelbarrel and trowls and give the list to the city.... 72K for six speedbumps???? Im guessing one of a few things here. A: the city workers who install these things are WAY over paid. B: The commission doesn't know how to bargin shop for building materials. or C: Someone should keep an eye on the commissioner's bank accounts.........

KsTwister 11 years, 9 months ago

Hmmmm.....I dare the commission to address only major issues in this city instead of the dog and pony acts they entertain now. Where is real leadership and the can do people---they did not make it last election because citizens are too busy to vote I think.Working two jobs or more to pay for city hall follies.

nonimbyks 11 years, 9 months ago

Roundabouts are the best solution to traffic problems. Watch the video from KDOT Modern urban development will use them more and more.

nonimbyks 11 years, 9 months ago

Just raise taxes, it has nothing to do with affording them. Besides, college students don't own property so it won't concern them and they can enjoy our beautiful roads.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

To the city: If you must build reoundabouts, please yourselves to requiring them in the future modern urban development areas; do not add them to the old urban areas because there isn't enough room for them.

benm024 11 years, 9 months ago

Roundabouts are fine. Learn how to use them. Its amazing how people seem to turn into complete morons the second they approach one. They add a nice change from the constant barrage of 4-way stops in most of the rest of the country and they provide much better results. Thanks, but when I come to an empty intersection I would prefer to keep moving instead of coming to a complete stop for no reason. Fact is they are here to stay, so deal with them, learn them, and take comfort in knowing that the LCC is doing their best to take a little "po-dunk" out of Kansas one small step at a time.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

The ones that are already built are here to stay. Hopefully the ones that are in the pipeline will stay there until we can elect a new commission.

bankboy119 11 years, 9 months ago

My argument isn't that the roundabouts are inherently evil. Lawrence has ones that are just midget cousins of the true thing. Look at the arguments over on OTS.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 9 months ago

Why don't the LPD officers that sit on Massachusetts Street running radar every day, take a day or two off and run radar on these problem residential streets? If I lived there I would be very concerned for the safety of my children, as well. I think sporadic saturation enforcement of these problem areas would be a lot cheaper and just as effective as the stupid roundabouts and speed bumps! Thank you, Lynn

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Roundabouts are constructed of mostly of concrete and asphalt. Like all inanimate matter, of course they are stupid.

I'm not sure what excuse the idiots who can't figure out how to drive them have.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

There are those of us who have been able to navigate the roundies since the beginning, but who still object to these obstructions. The idiots are the ones who do not see that the roundabouts are excessively undersized to be attractive and/or fully functional, and are an excessively expensive solution to the perceived problem they are purported to correct.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

I go through the roundy at 19th and Barker sometimes several times a day. I've driven large trucks through it without any problem, and watch firetrucks and city and school buses make it through with no problems.

What's your problem?

Jay_Z 11 years, 9 months ago

Bozo, the problem is that these damn roundabouts are VERY expensive. There are many more pressing things the city needs to spend money on right now than roundabouts. Can I make it any more simple for you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Jeez, Jay Z, all roads of any kind are expensive. Why do you think it's such a contentious issue?

So what constitutes very expensive? Are you referring to the very bogus and highly inflated figures posted on this thread?

Folks like to bitch and moan about the traffic problems in this town, but the roundy at 19th and Barker, with which I am most familiar, made a huge improvement in the traffic flow at that intersection.

Guess what causes traffic to back up on 19th St now. It's the traffic light at Mass. St.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 9 months ago

  1. no real problem to fix on 13th. sure, if you look on any street you'll find the occasional speeder! and, are there more accidents on east 13th? I don't think so!
  2. this money really should be used more wisely [as cited above re GODOT]!

  3. wheelchairs forced to go into the street: as cited in previous [sidewalk] discussions, FIX THE SIDEWALKS AND YOU'LL GET PEOPLE OUT OF THE STREET! boy, that's a tough concept!

  4. Go Mike Amyx! you're the one and only commish member I'm voting for in the future from the incombants!

  5. ditch the roundabouts [pun intended], spend the money on: sewers; street repair; and sidewalks. it is revealing to mention that in another discussion, Mr. Merrill ["traffic bumps are fun"] admitted that broken streets do serve as traffic calming in their universe! wow.

east 13th is still often a funeral procession route: HEARSE IN A ROUNDABOUT; TWIST AND SHOUT! hearse in a roundabout; twist and shout.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

  1. Those who have actually looked at the situation on 13th disagree, BG, but you never let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good rant, do you?

  2. When you become the arbiter of wisdom, we are in deep doo doo.

  3. The policy on sidewalks is decades old. It did not originate with this commission. Of course, those on this commission whom you most despise really would like to fix the sidewalks, but they know that if they actually sought to do so, you and your ilk would be the first to bitch about how much it cost, or how mean the city was being to property owners.

  4. Incombants?

  5. About the only sense you made in that post.

  6. Given the relatively small amount of money spent on roundabouts, you'd need to do a Jesus routine to stretch that money far enough to make all the roads as perfect as you seem to want them. But hyperbole is your strong suit, not a grasp on the facts.

J Good Good 11 years, 9 months ago

Yes, traffic problems don't even "make the list" unless actual hard numbers have been put together about the extent of the problem. In this case, they would look at the percent of people speeding a certain number of miles over the speed limit. People don't just pull this stuff out of thin air....

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Bozo, since you seem to be "in-the-know," please, enlighten us. Exactly, to the penny, how much, from start (including the "study") to the finish (including the "plantings"), did the roundabout at 19th and Barker cost the taxpayers of Lawrence?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Never stated a figure, but plenty of others have been posted here. Perhaps you should follow all the links to those.

You seem to be pretty sure that there was some illegal activity in the Elwell deal. Got a link that proves that?

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Bozo, you are the one who claims that the cost of the roundabouts is not excessive. Prove it.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Regarding the Elwell deal, today's JW article is the first I heard of it.

Let me pose this question: If Dick Cheney bought land at the price of $122,000 per acre on January 1, and then on February 28, FEMA sold him the adjacent 1.1 acres for a grand total of $26,000, without competitive bids, and without advance public notice, what would you say?

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 9 months ago

More crashes occur at four-way stop intersections than at roundabouts. The cost of building a roundie is nothing compared to life or limb. And bicyclists can keep their momentum which keeps traffic flowing.

I like the roundies but really dislike those goofy traffic islands on Louisana but ultimately all are safer for ALL methods of transportation: Bicyclists, Motorists, and Pedestrians crossing on side-walks but not for the stupid joggers in the street.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Cheney is a long-time practioner of corruption in government. None of your favorite bogeymen on the commission has such a background, and neither does Elwell, to my knowledge.

If this deal is as corrupt as you say it is, then let's see some evidence, not just more of your smear of the day crap.

I didn't say that the costs of roundabouts weren't "excessive," nor did I say that they were "excessive." I merely said that the funding that went to pay for them wouldn't be sufficient to magically make Lawrence the asphalt and concrete heaven you constantly clamor for, nor would it fund your pie-in-the-sky complete replacement of the sewer system that "growth" is obviously not paying for.

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