Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Wrecks lead to scrutiny of ‘racetrack’ parkway

September 7, 2006


A motorcycle wreck last week on a curving stretch of road in far west Lawrence has revived concerns about the road's safety.

The 40 mph zone is at the end of Bob Billings Parkway near schools and a church. But Lawrence attorney Tim Riling, who lives nearby, said the street is a prime attraction for irresponsible drivers.

"It's like a racetrack," he said.

Twice in two years - in 2001 and 2002 - young people died while speeding in nearly the exact same spot on that stretch of road. Both lost control and crashed on the south side of the road near Bobwhite Drive.

Alcohol was listed as a factor in one of those wrecks.

On Friday night, a 22-year-old Kansas University student from Topeka, Anthony Giordono, was flown by air ambulance to University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., after losing control and crashing into an embankment in roughly the same area, near Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Pkwy.

A detailed report on that wreck was not available Wednesday, but at the time police said they were investigating alcohol as a possible contributing factor.

A curve on Bob Billings Parkway near Corpus Christi Catholic Church has been the scene of two fatal wrecks in two years. Attorney Tim Riling, pictured near the curve Wednesday, believes the speed limit should be lowered or traffic-calming devices should be installed.

A curve on Bob Billings Parkway near Corpus Christi Catholic Church has been the scene of two fatal wrecks in two years. Attorney Tim Riling, pictured near the curve Wednesday, believes the speed limit should be lowered or traffic-calming devices should be installed.

Also, in October 2004, teenagers were injured in a drag-racing accident in the 6000 block of Bob Billings Parkway.

Riling said he believes the city should consider lowering the speed limit or installing some kind of traffic-calming devices.

"I think we have to do something about it; otherwise it's just going to continue to occur," he said.

A similar discussion happened after the 2001 and 2002 crashes. City traffic engineer David Woosley said at the time he didn't think a traffic-calming device was a good idea for a busy arterial road.

Also, Woosley said Wednesday that a change in the speed limit could only do so much.

Corpus Christi Catholic Church

"If somebody is driving drunk and over the speed limit, a sign up there isn't going to change that," he said.

But he said he would study the issue, if he's asked to do it.

Riling isn't the only person with concerns. The Rev. Mick Mulvany, of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, said that in a meeting at the beginning of the school year, several parents expressed concern about the amount of traffic on Bob Billings Parkway.

Officials at Langston Hughes, which is nearby on George Williams Way, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.


lunacydetector 11 years, 4 months ago

plumbcrack said, "let this be paid for, in the form of a "special accessment" to the neighborhood!" Yes, just like the folks in east lawrence paying for the $900,000 roundabout on 19th street, NOT! actually, i remember when the city commission progressives took state money from a west side neighborhood street improvement and used it on the east side of town, then they tried to get the same west side neighborhood pay for the road improvement as a special assessment. i wonder whatever happened with that?

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

If a roundabout goes in, let this be paid for, in the form of a "special accessment" to the neighborhood!

It's not the neighbors that are having the wrecks. I think the article said this guy was from Topeka? Three serious accidents and look at the age of those involved! Hate to introduce age discrimination to this subject, but hey, it is what it is.

hipper_than_hip 11 years, 4 months ago

There's not enough sight distance for vehicles exiting Goldleaf onto eastbound 15th. The city hired LPE to check the sight distance, and it was found that a berm and a detached garage at the NE corner of the intersection block the required line of sight to the east.

Here's the rub: either LPE lied to the city about the sight distance problem, or the city has decided to do nothing about it. Either way, there's a problem at that intersection.

The_Voice_of_Reason 11 years, 4 months ago

Why do traffic "Calming" devices make me angry?

arlo 11 years, 4 months ago

quickly lets tear up some more roads! we have finished a few projects all ready! quickly we need more construction zone to write tickets in!

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

hipper_than_hip - "Here's the rub: either LPE lied to the city about the sight distance problem, or the city has decided to do nothing about it. Either way, there's a problem at that intersection."

What you say may be true, but the three accidents did not involve anyone coming out of this intersection. It involved three individuals going eastbound entirely too fast to negotiate the curve. Two different issues.

bighomer 11 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence has a serious problem in "planning" roads. What did you expect when you paved a road that's really wide in a residential neighborhood? It's perfect for racing at night, there's practically no traffic. You can fit four cars on it side by side.

newsreader 11 years, 4 months ago

I live off the road they are talking about, and I have never seen a police officer on it... driving or sitting... put a cop there ocassionally and kids will slow down

bigun539 11 years, 4 months ago

This area used to have a legal drag strip off of "Drag Strip Road" which got consumed by the town in the 80's. I hate the name Wakarusa Drive. Then you build a dead end 4 lane road. DUH!!!! Just who in the heck planned all of this???

Confrontation 11 years, 4 months ago

Why don't we charge the parents of those 18 and under with all the accident cost and fine them for giving the car and keys to an idiot?

Bud Stagg 11 years, 4 months ago

It's not the road, it's the drivers. All of these accidents would have occured on another road because the drivers were drinking. Why is it whenever there's an accident involving 1 drunk person, we have to punish the rest of society by taking away their rights.

Instead of taking away smooth roads, driving privledges, or drinking privledges, lets teach people to be better citizens and humans. Let's also punish the crap out of people who break the law. 2 strikes and you are out, in jail, death penalty or a really bad spanking in public.

bigun539 11 years, 4 months ago

You can't call this road "smooth". Go eastbound towards drag strip road. I don't call that smooth. The road is very wavy to say the least. My son used to live in a apartment complex just west of the huge church.

Richard Ballard 11 years, 4 months ago

Why don't they use "Traffic Calming Devices" like I have on my street.

They don't cost us taxpayers a thing, and you sure don't see anyone speeding over them more then once.

They are called Potholes!


b_asinbeer 11 years, 4 months ago

newsreader--I don't live near there, and the rare times I do go out that far I've seen cops watch for speeding twice.

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago

Look, every arterial street in town is "a prime attraction for irresponsible drivers" but for one factor -- they're full of other vehicles, which are THE "traffic calming devices" for them.

BB Parkway is an arterial street constructed before the full load of neighborhoods utilitizing it yet exist. Once that area if fully developed (and definately, once a connection to the bypass is constructed), the Parkway will be full of vehicles and racing at excess speeds will be quite difficult. The road needs an expensive traffic calming device no more than 23rd Street or Massachusetts; it just needs traffic.

And exactly how would lowering the speed limit deter drunken speeders presently breaking the existing speed limit? (How low must the limit be before deterrence kicks in? 10 mph?)

If the City believes a temporary fix is absolutely necessary, they can construct a speedbump (probably costing $50k).

(BTW - I'm confused about the Corpus Christi complaint about "the amount of traffic". Why would a major road not have a high volume of traffic? Does the school there have any more traffic than St. John's on Kentucky? - A: no.)

Chuck Wehner 11 years, 4 months ago

Amen to Joehawk

I'm also tired of being punished because some idiot doesn't know how to drive.

clarkentsman 11 years, 4 months ago

Contrary to the belief of some, you can not make all roads safe to all drivers all of the time.

The cheapest way to help this problem is to install a three-way stop at Bobwhite Drive and a four-way stop at George Williams Way - at least until Bob Billings Parkway is connected to the K10 Bypass. After an interchange is added to the bypass these streets will likely be candidates for stop lights.

With the police dept a half a mile away they should drive the road hourly.

lunacydetector 11 years, 4 months ago

the City only puts in traffic calming devices in areas where they are NOT needed, right? since this particular piece of road has had some tragic accidents, a traffic calming device is NOT recommended, correct?

Confrontation 11 years, 4 months ago

I bet the city will solve this by adding double bike lanes on both sides of the street. Surely people riding bikes will make the kids slow down. Right?

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

Confrontation - "Why don't we charge the parents of those 18 and under with all the accident cost and fine them for giving the car and keys to an idiot?"

Two of those three accidents resulted in fatalities. I think they already paid the price.

rousseau108 11 years, 4 months ago

the police department is not half a mile away. that is the building used by detectives, school resource officers, etc.---not by patrol. there's nobody there at night, which is when these problems are occurring. the amount of geography in west lawrence has expanded immensely, yet there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of officers responsible for that area. the police can't be everywhere at once to hold our hands and protect us from our drunken selves. and of course if they were, then everyone would complain that we live in a "police state."

Confrontation 11 years, 4 months ago

KS: I agree with you in regards to the young people who died in their accidents. However, the parents of any kids under 18 (who cause an accident by speeding, wreckless driving), should be responsible for all costs. We need to make parents more accountable. I do understand that there are just some "bad apples" who will completely ignore the parents. This type of behavior usually just doesn't come from nowhere. If I knew my mother would have suffered from me acting like an idiot, then I would have been very careful. She would have made that Very clear to me. I do feel sorry for the families of those who have died, but we need some stronger messages of prevention.

white_mountain 11 years, 4 months ago

Wherever there are fatalities, we need to fix those areas.

We should put in more stoplights on this part of the road. If that doesn't work, put in speed bumps.

It is our duty as a society to protect each and every individual from harm on our public streets.

white_mountain 11 years, 4 months ago

If there is potential for even ONE death at that spot, we need to fix it, or we are basically a failure as a society.

The price of a death far outweighs putting in protective measures.

As a society, we need to safeguard all of these trouble areas against harm to future generations of our children.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

Confrontation - Unfortunately, even if you fined the parent, they would claim some inabilty to pay, etc. You and I must have had the same Mother. Mine would have raised holy H**L with me on anything like that, but that is unfortuantely not today's society. A lot of parents just don't care. The good ones do and, in my opinion, their kids are generally not the problem.

white_mountain - The Governement can't be all things to all people. Driving is a privilege and not a right. We also can not legislate stupidity. If we could, half of this town would be behind bars. Now we can argue as to which half! :))

white_mountain 11 years, 4 months ago

I understand what you are saying. I just think if we suspect there may be deaths there in the future, we are criminally negligent not to prevent those deaths, that's all.

Some common sense solutions in the meantime would be to ban cell phone use, and raise the driving age to at least 21.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

Oh come on! We need to get past the banning of cell phones. If you want to do that, ban kids in cars, ban dogs in cars, ban radios and cd players in cars. Where do you stop with that? People have a responsiblity to police themselves.

Bud Stagg 11 years, 4 months ago

white mountain, We are not criminally negligent, the drivers of those cars were. If we use your logic then this could happen:

I think someone could slip and fall on your driveway and die. So you should put in hand rails, padded cement, and hire an attendant to escort anyone who might use your driveway. In fact you should not use your driveway. Wait, you should not go outside ever again.

If we put a speed bump in everyhwhere a drunk driver has a wreck or hurts someone, we will have very bumpy roads that will cause even sober people to wreck.

Where does it end and where to people take responsibility for themselves? Accidents can happen on any road. These were not accidents, they were intentional acts. These people should pay the price. I'm sorry if someone died on this stretch of road, they should not have been drinking or racing or riding with someone who was.

lubyloo 11 years, 4 months ago

Don't people realize that racetrack is east of Lawrence, on K-10?

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 4 months ago

Just put up signs that say:


all along that stretch. That outta doit.

If you don't like that, maybe make extremely severe consequences for drunk driving like, say, you never-ever drive again. Sorry Charlie!

dizzy_from_your_spin 11 years, 4 months ago

More potholes for the road of personal responsibility.

lunacydetector 11 years, 4 months ago

that portion of 15th has a couple of hills. at the bottom of the hill or the approach to where these accidents have happened, they should put up gigantic "No Outlet" signs. surely that would make someone hit their brakes. or, they could always put those little speed humps down, kind of like at the turnpike toll booth. that would slow some folks down.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.