Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Congestion near LHS steers road discussion

City to hear concerns, plans for 19th and Louisiana intersection

July 11, 2006


Please, just not a roundabout.

City commissioners have heard plenty of that sentiment as they consider what, if any, improvements to make to the intersection of 19th and Louisiana streets near Lawrence High School.

"I'm personally horrified at the thought of a roundabout at that location," said Bob Blank, who has been a resident of the adjacent Centennial Neighborhood since 1952.

Neighbors may have a little less to worry about after tonight. For the second time in six months, Chuck Soules, the city's public works director, will recommend to city commissioners at their weekly meeting that a roundabout isn't the best solution for the corner, despite a previous report that suggested the controversial device would be appropriate. He's also not recommending a previous plan that would have significantly widened the intersection and taken several homes in the process.

Instead, just as he did in December, Soules is recommending an $800,000 project that would lengthen turn lanes to improve safety at the intersection, which had 29 accidents between 2000 and 2004.

"We need to make some improvements there because we definitely have a congestion problem, and we have a safety problem there," Soules said.

Among the improvements planned for the intersection are:

¢ Lengthening the existing left-turn lane for westbound motorists on 19th Street. Currently the left-turn lane is less than a half block long. Soules is recommending that it be extended to Ohio Street to give more room for cars to make a left turn onto Louisiana Street. The longer lane may make it necessary to limit left-hand turns onto Ohio Street during certain hours.

¢ Changing the traffic light at the intersection to allow motorists to make a left turn onto southbound Louisiana Street only if they have a green arrow. Currently left turns are allowed on a green light.

¢ Creating a center turn lane on 19th Street west of Louisiana Street. The turn lane would stretch to the westernmost entrance of Lawrence High School. Soules said that should help improve the flow of traffic by giving motorists a protected lane to turn into the high school and into the adjacent neighborhood. As part of the plan, Soules is recommending the easternmost exit to Lawrence High become right-turn only to help keep traffic moving.

¢ Adding a bus turn-out lane along Louisiana Street that would allow school buses to pull out of the traffic flow while loading and unloading students.

Soules said he believed the project could be built without purchasing any private property for additional right-of-way. He said the department would know for sure in about six months, once final plans for the project are completed.

19th and Louisiana
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Soules presented the proposed intersection improvements to commissioners in December, but they stopped short of approving them. Instead, commissioners told Soules to have further discussions with neighbors. Soules on Monday said he had not heard much support for the roundabout. He said he has concerns about a roundabout at the location because of its estimated $3 million price tag, and also because it likely would need to have two lanes to function properly.

The Lawrence school district also has come out against the roundabout idea, citing concerns about pedestrian safety. The Centennial Neighborhood Assn. also has opposed the roundabout option, but it has stopped short of endorsing Soules' plan.

Construction on the project - for which the city hopes to receive about $400,000 in state funding - would not begin until 2008.


lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

since lawrence lost population for the first time since its founding, perhaps a long range 'progressives in power' plan should be about reducing the size of the intersection so we can revert back to when only 40,000 people lived here. better yet, why not make the school district pay for any change to the intersection since they will be the ones benefitting.

making the intersection bigger will only take away from lawrence's small town atmosphere and character. a long range 'progressives in power' plan should also call for putting together a committee to figure out what to do when we need to close freestate high school among others and what its (their) alternative use could be.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Let's applaud the special bus lanes whose time was likely 25 years past due. No matter what that area will always be a challenge during KU spring and fall sessions. 23rd is the same Nothing the city can do about KU traffic so drivers may as well grin and bear it. Life could be worse.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

Move the high school. And the university.

If they put in a roundabout, I'm going to by a tow truck and rent a parking space at the laundramat. I'll have the truck paid off in about 4 weeks, and my retirment home in Florida would be paid off in about a year. After another 3 years I'd be so rich, Bill Gates would call me uncle.

happyone 11 years, 11 months ago

Some good ideas there, just don't know how well they will work. No left on a solid green seems like it would back traffic up to Mass St.. Maybe not but seems so. How about make 19th one way going west from Tennessee to Naismith and Louisiana one way going south from 19th to 23rd during school times say 7am-9am and 2pm-4pm monday thru friday...just a crazy thought. A lot of bigger cities do this during high traffic times.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 11 months ago

It's sickening to see such a bad idea being tossed around, when they would be better off building a highway for south lawrence to kansas city, traffic congestion- no more. private industry doesn't have any problem making progress on building a second walmart, why can't the city make any progress on the SLT problem. This bus lane idea is about the worst idea since electing the current city council.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago


We can sometimes be a little slow on the up-take, so we may ask from time to time "are you being sarcastic?"

If they took out the laundry, a chunk of the lawn in front of LHS, a chunk of the park and removed that house on the corner, they could build a roundabout big enough to accomadate that intersection. So far, we have not had any roundabouts that are large enough. They need to be about 40 yards wide to be safe. With a fountain in the middle to be attractive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

Helpful hint, bangaranggerg-- next time you want to go to KU or Lawrence High, try heading somewhere in that general vicinity rather than heading out to south Lawrence.

happyone 11 years, 11 months ago

I like your roundabout with a fountain OldEnuf but I don't think the high school kids would manuver it very well they would probably want to play in the fountain so it would have to be "dry"

BDitty 11 years, 11 months ago

banning students from driving to school! do you have any idea how much a bus system to accomidate that would cost? c'mon, you can come with something better than that. All of 19th street from Naismith to Mass. needs to be redone and widened. Not to mention it's about as smooth as a 15 yr. old boys face. I feel like I'm riding a horse and not in a car everytime I drive down that street.

outdoor55 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure what the best answer is but I do agree with Reality_Check. I don't think that the city has always used round abouts appropriately but I do think that they work in high traffic areas.

I lived in India for a few months and the traffic there is insane. However, the interesting thing was the lack of stoplights. Just a thought

average 11 years, 11 months ago

The problem is Tenn/Ky traffic trying to get to Louisiana. I don't see anyone trying to clear out this real problem.

Solution (and apologies to the people in the neighborhood proposed, but it is logical) is to continue Tennessee as a one-way south from 19th to 23rd, along with a stoplight at Tenn and 23rd. Northbound traffic isn't quite so clear... bulldozing Kentucky to 23rd is pretty disruptive. Encourage Vermont/21st/Kentucky routing?

lawrencephilosopher 11 years, 11 months ago

  1. Pave city hall and re-route the traffic there.
  2. Ban driving.
  3. Plan ahead?

grimpeur 11 years, 11 months ago

Observer wins the cigar!

Resident-only permits in the surrounding neighborhoods, limit LHS on-campus parking to cars with 3 (or 4) or more occupants.

Then do the same at KU.

BabyJay13 11 years, 11 months ago


They do have roudabouts in this town that are way TO BIG.... We have one in our neighborhood that you can't even see over because they have so much "landscaping" on it, so I don't think a fountian would be a good idea either. It is going to cause more wrecks than preventing traffic from driving fast down the road. They don't need to put a roundabout b. y the high school. Roundabouts are not a good idea for people in this town, they don't know how to drive through them. I have gotten honked at by some idiot that was mad at me for yeilding because there was a car already going through the roundabout. That is why they have yeild signs around them, get a clue folks! And people in this town can't follow a road sign if their life depended on it.

neopolss 11 years, 11 months ago

It's amazing what you can do with a dedicated turning lane or lights that have signal for dedicated left turning. If we could get a dedicated left turn light on 9th and Tenessee or 23rd and Ousdahl, it would solve half of the congestion problems right there.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

We can complain all we want, but until you've tried to cross Leavenworth in a car, you cannot really appreciate how good we have it here. Leavenworth is a Franken-city of odd, narrow roads. They actually used to have two streets that had the EXACT same names. They changed that when the Fire Department explained that someone was going to die someday when they got called to the "wrong" street. Rediculous.

Actually, the "plow Kentucky through" idea would really work well if we had some very smart stoplights in place. That would remove a lot of LA traffic onto Kentucky, and if the MA, KY, TN, and LA stoplights on 23rd were all timed together, the traffic would probably flow very well.

BUT, that would cost hundreds of thousands more than a roundabout at ONE intersection, I'm sure.

Dale Stringer 11 years, 11 months ago

Think some of the improvements like the bus lane would be good. I also think some may need some thinking about.

I am not familiar with that corner so I do not know how much traffic is on it, but I do have plenty of experience driving on traffic circles, mostly in countries where you do not need a licence to drive.

I will say that roundabouts do work well for mid to high volume traffic, but are not so good for low and heavy (to me heavy is higher than high, wow that sounds wierd but most people will understand) traffic. The ones that work well for the high traffic areas were giants too, from 40yrds for the circle to one that had a small castle on the island. Traffic usually flowed well, but once the traffic got heavy the gridlock came and people would wait for 20 minutes to drive a block to the circle. Yes they had plenty of accidents too.

For low volume areas like where the circles on W Harvard, you are better off putting stop signs in conjunction with some good sized speed bumps. Those circles only slow down the safe drivers while the youngsters see how fast they can make the turn.

For heavy volume areas, well nothing really works. I just know that the country of Bahrain is converting all their circles in heavy areas to corners with stoplights because it is less dangerous.

Best way to fix it is to reduce the traffic. LHS is one of the biggest schools in KS. Maybe Lawrence should like about building another high school and have three.

mom_of_three 11 years, 11 months ago

At the 19th and Louisiana intersection, you also have to watch out for the high school students crossing the street against the light.
Several months ago, there was a group coming back from lunch at the park. They started across the street during their red light, and made the cars who had the green lights stop for them. When the driver's honked in frustration and anger, the students laughed and made rude gestures.

19th Street from Louisiana to Mass is too small to handle the amount of traffic during rush hours. But I guess they are only worried about the one intersection.

Jackson 11 years, 11 months ago

A steady decline in 497 enrollement over the past 10 years DOES call for another $50 Million dollar HS.

There are fewer HS students (TOTAL) in BOTH high schools in 2006 than were in LHS in 1979.

Until city commissioners admit (and correct) obvious problems adversly affecting the Single family zoned neighborhoods, the decline of familes (and kids) will continue.

SF zoned neighborhoods have become a rental housing business that caters to un-related people at the expense of owner-occupied housing.

Lawrence has become very unfriendly to owner occupied housing.

Business owners and city leaders - WISE UP!

anonimiss 11 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't there an article not too long ago that Lawrence has some of the dumbest traffic lights? We could improve traffic flow immensly if the traffic lights were timed to create uninterrupted traffic in one direction during rush hour. Wouldn't require buying new land, bulldozing anything, building anything. Everything would be the same except for software and maybe wiring the lights together with some sort of communication.

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