Archive for Friday, September 1, 2006

Suicide lane’

City plans to ease dangers along 23rd St.

September 1, 2006


Reader poll
What could make 23rd Street safest for drivers?

or See the results without voting


Its nickname is the "suicide lane."

That's long been the moniker for the center turning lane along the busiest sections of Lawrence's 23rd Street. There motorists frequently risk head-on collisions as they try to turn left the same time others are doing likewise, or fear being side-swiped by an impatient driver looking to turn out of one of the many driveways along one of the city's busiest shopping corridors.

Chuck Soules, the city's director of Public Works, has a plan he hopes will soften the suicide lane's image a bit. Soules and staff have been working with property owners up and down the street on a voluntary program that encourages businesses to begin sharing driveways, thereby lessening the number of access points.

"We're definitely looking for ways to improve the safety of the corridor," Soules said. "We think this might be a way to reduce the number of conflict points if we can reduce the number of places people pull in and pull out."

The city has received a $500,000 economic development grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation - and city commissioners already have approved spending $220,000 in local money - to improve the street's safety. With that type of money, Soules said, the city could reduce the number of access points between Iowa and Louisiana streets by 10.

The hope is that the project would provide enough benefits to both businesses and motorists that the city would want to fund a second round of improvements.

Possible changes

Here's a look at the changes the city's Public Works Department would like to make to the stretch of 23rd Street between Iowa and Louisiana streets: ¢ Close nine driveways on the north side of 23rd Street and three driveways on the south side of the street. ¢ Build two new driveways. ¢ Enlarge and improve eight existing driveways that would allow neighboring businesses to share driveways. ¢ The program would create a net decrease of 10 driveways along the busy stretch of road.

The city is trying to make the project as appealing as possible to businesses along the corridor. Soules said no business will be forced to participate, and those that do will not have to pay for any of the costs to build a new driveway. In addition, Soules said, the city will install sidewalks for participating businesses that don't already have them or have ones that don't meet city code.

"There are some real advantages to letting the city do all this work for you," Soules said.

Engineers with the Public Works Department have been meeting with property owners this week. Soules said he's cautiously optimistic several businesses will want to join in.

Peter Doddema, manager of the University Book Shop at 1116 W. 23rd Street, said he's interested in possibly sharing an entrance with the adjacent O'Reilly Auto Parts.

"As long as the driveway is wide enough it probably could work," Doddema said.

Other areas the city is looking to make changes in include the areas near: Hastings Books Music & Video; the stretch of street that includes Subway, the Presto Convenience Store, the Sushi Station and Kwik Shop; Dillons; Taco Bell, the Pizza Hut and the adjacent Louisiana Purchase shopping center; and the stretch of street leading to Burger King and the shopping center that includes Party America.

Deals, however, haven't yet been reached, so the work can't begin. Some businesses are expressing concerns, even though their landlords have expressed interest.

"I think all of this will make it harder to get here and harder to leave,' said Lance Keltner, an owner of UNI Computers, which would begin sharing a driveway with the adjacent Burger King and Long John Silvers restaurants. "I think that will just cause people to get impatient and ultimately result in more wrecks."

Soules said he hopes to reach agreements with enough businesses so that co

- 6News reporter Laura McHugh contributed to this report. Note: "an inpatient driver" has been edited to read "an impatient driver."


kcwarpony 11 years, 8 months ago

Back in 1995, I lived in Richmond, Virginia for a year and they have a street very similar to 23rd called Broad Street (West and East, with it also being State Hwy 250 and 33, if I remember correctly), two lanes each direction, businesses on both sides, and heavy traffic. Traffic moved fairly well because left turns were not allowed, not going into or out of parking lots (businesses). Broad Street had a solid running median instead of a center turn lane. U-turns were allowed at the intersections during green left turn arrows. Seemed a little strange at first but once you got used to paying attention to where it was you wanted to go and how/what you had to do to get there, it worked well. I used that street nearly every day, twice a day, and never saw anything more than a fender bender. I've always wondered if something like that would work here.

KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Just finish the SLT. A lot of the traffic on 23rd would disappear. I know you wouldn't see my car on it. Quite wasting money on 23rd.

I agree, "no left turns" would be better. Certain parts of Metcalf in OP is set up that way. Simple too! A few signs.

Nikki May 11 years, 8 months ago

I usually go through connecting lots to get to a light, so it would be the same to me. But the moniker "suicide lane" doesn't refer to ONLY Lawrence's 23rd street. How self important.

davisnin 11 years, 8 months ago

Shouldn't the people using the SLT not be the ones in the turn lane anyway, since they are headed straight to the City of West Lawrence? This would all be solved with roundabouts.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 8 months ago

"or fear being side-swiped by an inpatient driver"

Inpatient drivers? What are they doing on the street? Shouldn't they be admitted somewhere?

Tanetti 11 years, 8 months ago

Re: the inpatient drivers ... what makes them so dangerous is those dang hospital beds. How they fit them in their cars, I will never know.

cowboy 11 years, 8 months ago

" I'm from the city , I'm here to help you"

Arrrggggghhhhhh !

All this latest brain flatulence does is put the traffic in the parking lots at 30 mph. Witness the Hastings to Ousdahl thorofare where people now think that 30 mph is acceptable in a parking lot. Dangerous.

Ceallach 11 years, 8 months ago

warpony, I like the idea of no left turns. That should do a lot to lessen the accidents and traffic slow-downs along that stretch.

I live just off 22nd and Naismith and travel 23rd street quite often -- "suicide lane" is more than a little dramatic:)

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

I think the slt is needed but not for the traffic on 23rd only. And taking 19th around will only get you so far, Iowa then you have to either fo to 23rd or bob billings(the former19th) and all those other back ways are getting bad as well besides 19th st from about 2:30pm to about 5:30pm is a mess highschool, ku, and people trying to get home from work make it almost as bad as 23rd at those hours. I am not sure what can really be done but something being done would be nice, I would love three or four lanes on 19th from mass up to Iwoa that would help alot I think, just no da** roundabout anywhere.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

i wish you'd appreciate the fact that west lawrence's taxes pay for the improvements of east lawrence/downtown. call it a charity subsidy....and yes, build the SLT through the manmade wetlands. the voters already approved it 20 years or so ago.

GardenMomma 11 years, 8 months ago

Copy editors, copy editors. I wish the LJWorld would get some who could do the job right. Spell checking won't catch errors like "inpatient" v. "impatient."

On topic though, I agree that synching up the lights would be a HUGE help. And maybe having no left turns during rush hour(s) like they do between Louisiana and Mass. Streets.

compmd 11 years, 8 months ago


the SLT will not add any smog. In fact, the sudden accelerations from stoplights on 23rd street release more crap into the atmosphere than a car running at a constant engine speed on a highway.

KS 11 years, 8 months ago

"Folks, the SLT is a pipedream as it is now designed. The state has no money to fund this rich luxury for the few at the expense of the many."


Wait a minute! Our current Governor saved us over a Billion dollars. There should be plenty of money to build the SLT and fund schools. Those that don't like the SLT concept should be required to drive 23rd street two to three times a day in both directions for a year and then hear their story. I can't think of a single project that would help more people of this community than completion of SLT

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Hmm-- wonder why KDOT's studies of the traffic on 23rd say that completion of the SLT will have minimal impact.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

logrithmic in case you have not noticed 19th street is already over run with traffic and starting at about 2:30 on till about 6:00 is the worse. it does not run thru nice little neighborhoods you have Ku on one side for the most part and duplexes and rentals on the other. making it at least three lanes,3rd or center for turning is a good Idea traffic is horrible on this road with all the school traffic and as it is you get people who do not want to sit thru a light 4 times so go tearing down side roads angry and frustrated. And Eudora is not that great and then you waste time driving into town here to do any kind of mayjor shopping.

Caroline Bennett 11 years, 8 months ago

Logrithmic - Two things you said really struck a (bad) chord with me.

One, as someone already pointed out - SMOG? Seriously. The SLT will not produce new cars, just redistribute them. And compmd was very correct by saying that stop-and-go traffic is much more detrimental than free-flowing traffic.

Secondly, demanding that all commuters move to Eudora will solve NOTHING. Most commuters are part of a two-person relationship, where one works in Lawrence (at KU most likely), and the other has to find a job somewhere. Since Lawrence just doesn't have a whole lot of extra white-collar jobs lying around, this presents a very real difficulty. At least ONE person is going to have to commute in these relationships if KU is going to continue to operate. If these families all moved to Eudora, the direction of the daily commuters would simply change.

Simply being a little more realistic...

jafs 11 years, 8 months ago

There may be a variety of possible changes to lights, etc. that can help this problem. I'd just like to point out one way that wouldn't cost taxpayers anything. People could drive more mindfully and considerately.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

oh jafs what you mean people should be thoughtful of others, no you jest:) :)

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

good? no idea people just do not want it done I guess otr just wish it would get done.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 8 months ago

This not so much about the 'unusual' nature of the turn lane on 23rd as much as it is about the 'unusual' nature of Lawrence drivers. This is one of the costs of being a college town. Between the iPod and the cell phone, no one has any time for checking to see if someone else is turning.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

if KDOT claims the SLT will have minimal impact on 23rd street congestion, i say they are full of cr*p. it doesn't take a brain surgeon to tell you they are wrong. it is common sense. people who live in west lawrence and commute to kansas city will stop using 23rd street, that is a given. people who are passing through lawrence will use it to speed their way west.

when you drive through topeka on I-70 and want to go to wichita, do you take the south exit or do you take the west/downtown exit? gee, i think most smart people would take the south exit, especially when there is a sign that says south - wichita.

whoever with KDOT did their study saying the SLT won't alleviate traffic on 23rd street needs to have their head examined, and so do all of you who protest the SLT. what is it, too many drugs in your youth/adult life?

Rationalanimal 11 years, 8 months ago

Charlie Soules demonstrates city planning at its finest; his answer is to eliminate as many access points to businesses as possible. How about getting ride of the setback requirements and install some turn lanes and space on the roadside to pull a car over. It's time to admit that the roadside vegetation policies are aesthetically subjective, a waste of valuabe commercial space, and increase traffic congestion. The Com-5's hardline socialist policies create problems that beget more policies begetting more problems begetting more policy. This will somehow result in another property tax hike.

jayheel 11 years, 8 months ago

The poll forgot one solution to the traffic the NW Walmart. Many of the businesses on 23rd will simply close, thus alleviating a lot of traffic.

sourpuss 11 years, 8 months ago

Who "passes through Lawrence" on K10? Why not just stay on 70 or take 40? Wouldn't a person who commutes still want to grab groceries or a bite to eat on the way in or out of town? How would a bypass get rid of those people?

People who "protest the SLT" simply do not see a return for the money and/or environmental damage. But hey, you know anyone who doesn't want to drive through 23rd Street on their way to work is welcome to buy a house in Prairie Park or move to OP. I'm not holding a gun to their head and making them drive on 23rd.

When I was in town visiting my family in July, 23rd was a dream compared to what I am used to. Perhaps Lawrencians just need to be better drivers. Well, that is probaby a given.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"it doesn't take a brain surgeon to tell you they are wrong."

Of course not. What do brain surgeons know about traffic studies? For that matter, what do you know about them?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"How about getting ride of the setback requirements and install some turn lanes and space on the roadside to pull a car over."

The same businesses that oppose using fewer curbcuts would also oppose giving up the parking space you want to take from them.

The problem on 23rd is a result no planning, but that's exactly the planning policy most of the whiners on this forum want to return to, and if they get their way, every street in town will look like 23rd.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

well bozo I agree a big lack of planning. I guess they all thought the city would not move in any direction and get stagnet(sp).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"KDOTs statement about 23rd can only be true if you exclude the traffic on the eastern part of 23rd."

Well, that is precisely what the city is talking about in this article. 90+% of the traffic on W. 23rd would still be there even if the SLT is built.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

23rd, 19th, 6th, Iwoa, 31st they are all out of control and high traffic times are murder something needs done city wide.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Sounds good, solsken.

There should be more restrictions on left turns from the street. Besides, funneling all the parking lot traffic into reduced numbers of driveways will create a backup problem that will prove disastrous for a line of cars hurrying to make it into traffic all at once.

Or we could do like Wichita did with Kellogg, lower 23rd Street 18 feet, and do the frontage road thing. It only took them fifteen years I'm sure we're up for it here.

KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Finish the SLT. If there are bones out there, prove it. If you can't, they "ain't" there. Let the ashphalt pavers roll!

Kontum1972 11 years, 8 months ago

200 million.....lets spend that on something the war on terrorism....find
that Allan Keida guy.....lets make him part of the traffic way...Hu wah!

KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Hey! Our Governor has saved us a billion dollars. Money is not an object here.

davisnin 11 years, 8 months ago

So everyone that takes 23rd now is going to head 10 blocks south to take this MAGICAL bypass? 31st is there, throw a light up instead of a stop sign and there you go. If you hate the traffic go away. Your vast heaven of concrete Johnson county is right over there. No wetlands to contend with. I'm still not able to understand what this 'growth' is that everyone seems to want. Hundreds and thousand of cookie-cutter half-million dollar homes? What's the point? Just to make everything unique about this town disappear? Just kill a rabbit instead.

opportunity_on 11 years, 8 months ago

I actually agree with replacing the left-turning lane for a median (and, of course, allowing u-turns at lights). I lived in Oklahoma until recently, and, in the larger cities, the concept seemed fairly common, not to mention the fact that even the terrible drivers of Oklahoma could understand it.

Why spend millions of dollars sharing driveways and increasing parking lot congestion (not to mention irate drivers) when we could solve the problem more logically and easily?

Nikki May 11 years, 8 months ago

swbsow, the ticket you mentioned, is supposed to be if you use the lot to AVOID a light. I'm just thinking of the lot someone mentioned, from Hastings to Ousdahl. If I leave Hastings, I go to Ousdahl. MOST of the time, it's not a bunch of crazies. I've seen a few, but not many.

cowboy 11 years, 8 months ago

This is the dumbest plan i have heard of in at least a week from Soules. This city needs an intervention, your roads suck , your planning sucks , your solutions suck !

get your progressive heads out of your rectums and start planning to build some roads. Wonder why your maintenance is so high ? You have highway traffic in your city streets. Your streets are all overloaded.

Wake up progressitards !

gerbilsniper 11 years, 8 months ago

Just do what I did....if you can't stand lawrence, its planning, its police, its traffic, MOVE!! I took my tax dollars to JoCo....and couldn't be happier. If you don't like where you live don't live there.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

bozo, i know a lot more about traffic studies than you'll ever know....and what do YOU know about traffic studies?

the SLT WILL alleviate traffic on 23rd street. build the damn road. hopefully people won't vote for sebelius so we might have a chance of getting the thing built.

oh, by the way, which david are you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"bozo, i know a lot more about traffic studies than you'll ever know....and what do YOU know about traffic studies? "

So which is it, Luny-- do you know more than I will ever know, or not?

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