Visitors to Allen Fieldhouse might be greeted by more than just the Phog Allen statue outside the front door.
A new roundabout at 19th Street and Naismith Drive - along the main route to the Fieldhouse - could be the newest addition, if city leaders choose to accept $700,000 from the Kansas Department of Transportation to build the safety-enhancement project.
"I'm biased, but I think roundabouts are one of the most effective tools we have to address crash issues," said Brian Gower, state traffic engineer with KDOT. "From a safety perspective, I love them."
Safety is the reason KDOT officials have said they would provide funding for the 19th and Naismith project. The intersection was one of three in the city that KDOT determined to have accident rates significantly higher than the statewide average.
Whether the city takes the state up on its offer, however, is far from certain.
"I don't know," Chuck Soules, the city's director of public works, said. "We've talked about it a little, but these roundabouts are huge community issues. They're talking about a single lane roundabout, but we have huge traffic during game days. I know the university would have some issues with that."
KDOT said in lieu of the Naismith project, however, the city could accept KDOT funding for one of the other two intersections that were found to have high accident rates. Those intersections and the improvements KDOT recommends:
¢ A roundabout for the Sixth Street and McDonald Drive intersection. The new roundabout actually would be designed to reduce accidents at the adjacent intersection at Sixth and Iowa streets. With the new roundabout, the city would begin prohibiting westbound motorists on Sixth Street from turning directly onto Iowa Street.
Instead, westbound motorists would have to take the exit ramp off Sixth Street that leads to McDonald Drive, which runs underneath the elevated Sixth Street. Motorists then would use the new roundabout to make a three-quarter circle to head southbound - beneath Sixth Street - and merge onto Iowa Street.
The changes would be designed to eliminate accidents related to left turns at Sixth and Iowa. Engineers admit, though, that the plan is an outside-the-box solution.
"The Sixth and Iowa intersection is a tough intersection," Gower said. "You're basically talking about an intersection built on a bridge, which makes it tough to widen."
The state would provide $700,000 for the project.
¢ Left-turn lanes and realignment of the intersection at Ninth Street and Avalon Road. The state would provide $600,000 for the project, which would add the turn lanes to Ninth Street only. The project is designed to prevent rear-end accidents created by vehicles that stop in the main lane of traffic to turn left.
But to be effective, Gower said, Avalon Road would need to be realigned to create a traditional intersection. Soules said the realignment might make the project unfeasible because it would require the purchase of at least one home.
"That would make it real tough," Soules said.
Soules said the city also would need to develop more refined cost estimates for each of the three projects before deciding what to do. The state funding theoretically is designed to cover 90 percent of the construction costs of the project, but that figure does not include right-of-way costs and other expenses.
Soules said the city also will want to look to see if there are more feasible ways to address the safety issues at the intersections than what KDOT has proposed. Gower said the state is willing to listen to other ideas from the city.
Mayor Mike Amyx said he would like the city look for solutions other than roundabouts. He said he continues to receive a significant number of complaints about the devices.
"I don't think the community really wants very many more of them, to be honest," Amyx said. "I think we should just wait awhile before we add anymore."
City leaders have until March 30 to tell the state which, if any, of the projects they want to pursue. City commissioners will receive the letter from KDOT at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday, but are not expected to take any action then.