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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

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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.

Comments

anonimiss 7 years, 9 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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Reality_Check 7 years, 9 months ago

Actually, OldEnuf is correct...I have to agree that a roundabout must be of the right diameter to be effective (not height, as another poster complained about...that has nothing to do with it).

There are software programs that will design the roundabout correctly (set the diameter, angle the incoming lanes, etc.) but I have no knowledge whether our public works staff uses it. If they don't, then shame on them. But, the federal government has published standards for RB's...again, I don't know if Lawrence follows those standards or not.

Just putting something round up in the center of an intersection and saying, "Instant roundabout" does not a roundabout make.

While I don't favor taking a chunk of park or the house on the SE corner, I wouldn't miss the laundromat! That sucker has been an eyesore for 30 years.

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Jackson 7 years, 9 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!

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mom_of_three 7 years, 9 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.

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Dale Stringer 7 years, 9 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.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 9 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.

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neopolss 7 years, 9 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.

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frankzappa 7 years, 9 months ago

how about a class at LHS to teach those stupid kids how to cross a street?

Every time I try to cross 19th, going north on Louisiana, when I have a GREEN LIGHT ... invariably some a$$hole high school Jerk will step out and expect me to stop for them. Well, i have caused a great many of these stupid LHS MF'ers to soil their baggy shorts because guess what? I refuse to stop for their sorry a$$es because I have the Right of Way.

No matter what you try to tell me, a pedestrian cannot have the right of way when he has red and i have green.

Stupid Effing High School Students. My goal is to prevent the really stupid ones from reproducing.

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BabyJay13 7 years, 9 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad:

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.

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grimpeur 7 years, 9 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.

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lawrencephilosopher 7 years, 9 months ago

  1. Pave city hall and re-route the traffic there.
  2. Ban driving.
  3. Plan ahead?
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average 7 years, 9 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?

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outdoor55 7 years, 9 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

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BDitty 7 years, 9 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.

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offtotheright 7 years, 9 months ago

Who will train all of the Cordley children walking to and from school to use a round-a-bout?

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observer 7 years, 9 months ago

actually ban student from driving to school and no on-street parking in 6 block radius and there would be no traffic problem.

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The_Original_Bob 7 years, 9 months ago

Roundabout with a fountain... it'd be a good place for the kids to smoke but who is going to turn off the water so they won't play in it over lunch?

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Pywacket 7 years, 9 months ago

An easy way to cut down on SOME of the congestion at that intersection would be to widen the right, eastbound 19th St turn lane. It appears that the only thing that keeps that lane from opening all the way to the LHS exit-only driveway is a phone pole, which could be moved back.

The light turns green and 19th St traffic gets backed up halfway to Iowa because everyone leaving the school is crammed into one, immobile lane. Everyone trying to turn right (a large percentage) has to wait on those going straight because they cannot get into the truncated right lane...which is sitting there empty.

Meanwyile, after a few seconds, no one can exit from the school, either, because now traffic is backed up past the exit drive.

And, AMEN, bialystocknbloom, on your comments. How brilliant of them to think that adding another obstruction would make things better! For my money, they should eliminate that time-wasting idiotic feature on stop lights all over town.

I concur with what studies show--roundabouts do a far better job of moving traffic where there is room to put them in. But there's probably not at that intersection.

Finally, wish we could train some of the LHS-departing morons (parents and students alike) that when you have an exit-only driveway and it's wide enough for two bloated Navigators or Explorers to exit side by side, that if you're turning LEFT in yours, you have no business hovering the RIGHT side for the ten minutes it takes to get a left-turn break in traffic. But the gratification of making everyone who is turning right wait for their selfish a**es to turn left is probably part of the experience of owning these vehicles. (Okay...idiots in other vehicles do this, too.. but the numbers do seem strangely skewed... ;-)

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happyone 7 years, 9 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"

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 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.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 9 months ago

RC:

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.

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bangaranggerg 7 years, 9 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.

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iblong 7 years, 9 months ago

Let us hire an English Bobby

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happyone 7 years, 9 months ago

Are you going to pay for it R_C ?????

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Reality_Check 7 years, 9 months ago

I wish I lived somewhere where the city commission listened to what traffic engineers had to say instead of the opinions of the ignorant majority.

If The Professionals, who go to school for years, attend conferences, read industry magazines and white papers, etc., say a roundabout would work best, THEN IT WOULD. End of story. Quit acting like the pros don't know what they're doing. Roundabouts are a proved science...deal with it, as we're going to see a lot more nationwide.

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happyone 7 years, 9 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.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 9 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.

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billyflay 7 years, 9 months ago

all we need is a roundy, curb cuts, and traffic calming devices,

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bialystocknbloom 7 years, 9 months ago

Limiting left-hand turns against oncoming traffic during a light would null and void the other improvements because traffic would be backed up for three solid blocks. Longer turn lanes and a bus lane are a good idea, no left on red is a very very bad idea.

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offtotheright 7 years, 9 months ago

I wonder how they plan on widening 19th without taking out any homes? I don't see that being possible. A round-a-bout in that area is a crazy idea!

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Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 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.

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lunacydetector 7 years, 9 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.

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