Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

City may add Iowa St. turn lane

March 21, 2007


Accident-prone street could see improvements

Fewer fender benders may be in the future for a notorious stretch of Iowa Street. Enlarge video

A stretch of Iowa Street notorious for collisions may get a center turn lane if city engineers can convince neighbors and state leaders that the project is worthwhile.

City traffic planners are trying to build support for an idea to build a center turn lane on Iowa Street from Harvard Road to University Drive, a stretch of road that has produced 48 accidents in the last two years.

"We think this certainly would be a legitimate use of highway safety funding from the state," said City Traffic Engineer David Woosley. "But a lot of it probably will depend on how much support there is from the neighborhood."

Robert Lewis, who lives along West Hills Parkway, said conversations he's had indicate the neighborhood is largely supportive of the idea.

"Something needs to be done, because it is dangerous out there when the traffic gets heavy," Lewis said.

Support for the idea isn't universal.

Bill Mitchell, who has lived in the University Heights Neighborhood area for 42 years, said he thought the additional turn lane would encourage more people to turn into the neighborhood as a shortcut to Kansas University.

"What needs to happen is we need to get to the root of the problem," Mitchell said. "The root of the problem is KU as a traffic destination, and KU as an institution not taking responsibility for it."

Mitchell said a better solution is for KU to widen 15th Street west of Iowa Street as it enters the western edge of the main campus. He said a four-lane 15th Street would make it more likely that people would use that route instead of cutting through the University Heights Neighborhood.

The city doesn't yet have cost estimates on how much the Iowa Street turn lane project may cost. The city, though, will seek to use a $700,000 grant it received earlier this year from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The city will need KDOT permission to use that grant money because it had been earmarked for one of three projects: a roundabout at 19th and Louisiana streets; a roundabout near the meeting point of McDonald Drive, Iowa Street and Sixth Street; or the addition of left-turn lanes at Ninth Street and Avalon Road.

All three of those projects were deemed by city engineers to be difficult to complete, and likely controversial with residents. Woosley said the state had agreed to consider the Iowa Street project, but wants to determine whether the idea has neighborhood support.

One issue that will be important to some neighbors is undecided. Woosley said the city doesn't yet know whether it will have to acquire additional right of way from property owners who have frontage along Iowa Street, although he said the city hopes little will be needed.

The project also will need City Commission support. The plan likely will be before the commission in the next two weeks. Commissioners previously expressed interest in the concept.


pelliott 11 years, 2 months ago

no left turn heading south, double lanes on 15 east

Richard Heckler 11 years, 2 months ago

That 6th and Iowa concept would be a good idea because it would divert left turn traffic under the bridge onto Iowa. Those left turns at 6th and Iowa can create some back up.

conservative 11 years, 2 months ago

There should be 1 or 2 choices implemented for this stretch. Either there needs to be a center turn lane for the entire stretch of road described, or they need to remove the entrances to all the roads through that stretch. If the residents are worried that traffic will go up so signifcantly (and I can see where that is a valid concern) then they shouldn't mind the inconvience of having to drive through their own neighborhoods to other places to get to Iowa, 15th, or 9th.

It really is dangerous having those streets and no turn lanes. Some cars stop for a turn without signalling causing traffic to come to a screaching halt behind them. Often even when the car is already stopped or has signalled properly the cars behind them are trying desperately to jump into the other lane to avoid getting caught in the stop and that makes it dangerous too. Add to that the people coming out of the neighborhoods onto Iowa at 3 miles an hour and the whole stretch is just plain dangerous.

oldvet 11 years, 2 months ago

Add the turn lane on Iowa AND prohibit left turns onto Iowa from those side streets, except for the light at Harvard. Those left turns onto Iowa are a real danger and traffic blocker.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 2 months ago


Why not send your suggestion to David Woosley and ask him to make it an agenda item for the Traffic Safety Commission. You would need to show up only to make a brief statement or anyone who agrees could show up.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

All the problems at Harvard and Iowa are the result of development on South Iowa? Perhaps the most absurd assertion I have ever seen, as if all those cars are headed to the South Iowa WalMart. If they are, all the more reason to build the new WalMart at Wak and 23rd so they don't have to go down Iowa at all!

KU needs to widen the access at 15th and Iowa. that intersection defines "log jam." Traffic calming devices and uncontrolled intersections on 15th on campus further restricts traffic which backs up on Iowa. Turn lanes directing traffic into neighborhoods is not particularly kid friendly solution.

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

gos to show you once again they being RUNDLE BUNDLES GANG knew of this problem and did nothing as they have done nothing in four years

have a great day

Yabut 11 years, 2 months ago

Does the police department keep track of how many of these accidents involve KU students? I'm betting the number is fairly significant, and even if the KU students are not directly involved in the accident, their left turns onto campus are most likely a result. If the state wants to charge the taxpayers of Lawrence for the upkeep of the University, then the University should pull their fair weight and pay for improvements to roads surrounding it.

Put in a turn lane or prohibit left turns at certain hours .... I don't care. I drive this road every day and something needs to be done. This is a real problem.

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

Rundles gang should show the tax payers who they really are and put in a roundabout at a cost of 2 million and laugh all the way out of office,we showed them

oldgoof 11 years, 2 months ago

The article reads: "Mitchell said. "The root of the problem is KU as a traffic destination, and KU as an institution not taking responsibility for it."" . The state doesn't appropriate money to universities for roads. When Mr. Mitchell worked for the KU libraries, he might have had a different notion if his department had been hit with a cut to fund such.
. Perhaps we should do what Manhattan does, permanently designate a portion of city sales tax receipts to road/infrastructure improvements like these surrounding the university, since the university has no money for such. . And people like Mr. Mitchell and others who choose to live within a block of University should not complain about the natural effects of it.

mseybold 11 years, 2 months ago

Even though only a few people who live in the neighborhood would use the turn lanes, those few people slow everyone down. It's a matter of perspective. I see it as 700,000 to improve the flow of traffic and reduce accidents.

Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm one of those few people who live off of Iowa, on Terrace Road. Unfortunatly, Terrace Rd. is a dead end. I have no choice but to use Iowa St. to get home. I can't go around. The whole situation really sucks, because I don' t like holding up traffic to turn left onto my street, but at the same time, there is no "back way home" for me. Adding a turn lane would suck too, since they'd take our property to widen the street.
When KU is out, traffic isn't a problem....stupid students....

conservative 11 years, 2 months ago


The solution is simple, go past your street, turn around in a parking lot, and come at it from a safer direction.

Oh wait, that would inconvience you instead of the rest of the travellers on the road.

Stupid residents...

Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 2 months ago

Actually, conservative, this is exactly what I do to get home these days, because I dont like to inconvenience traffic. It just sucks that I have to go allll the way around, instead of going directly home.

maxcrabb 11 years, 2 months ago

I've seen way too many people who (regardless of their destination) tried to turn left off Iowa onto University or Oxford, and wait, and wait, and wait. While traffic backs up and up and up.

I know it sucks having a bunch of students cruising through your neighborhood, (try living by the football stadium during a home game) but the three rules of buying a home are 'location, location, location', and anyone buying a home less than one block from the University (and frats, sororities, and the dorms) should have expected SOME problems like this.

Or you had one hell of an agent.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

Again, build the new Walmart at 6th and Wak. All those ignorant people who bought developturds homes out West won't have to use Iowa to go shop at the developturds Walmart south of town. That way the developturds will stay off Iowa and shop at the new developturds Walmart close to their home.

Chris Golledge 11 years, 2 months ago

If you look at this from a perspective of efficient traffic movement, and to use a plumbing analogy, one big pipe is a lot more efficient than several smaller pipes. Ideally, the University should have one main entrance (on the west side) and the location at 15th and Iowa would be the logical location for that. It's an intersection with 3 4-lanes already, but the one 2-lane leads to the biggest traffic draw in town.

As well as being more efficient, enhancing 15th as it heads into the university would allow the negative impacts of high traffic to be concentrated in one area rather than distributed across a broader neighborhood.

Funding is a problem because there's the possibility of using someone else's money for the turn-lane option, but apparently not for the widen-the-KU-entrance option. It'd be a shame to make the wrong, long-term decision because of a near-term money situation. Maybe KU and the city could enter some sort of cooperative agreement.

Chris Golledge 11 years, 2 months ago

Of course, if you widen 15th past Engle, you'll really want something to do something at that intersection for the pedestrian traffic heading north and south along Engle. That's a common route because it means you don't have to walk down and back up the hill to get from the dorms to main campus.

Chris Golledge 11 years, 2 months ago

Heck, maybe highway funding can be designated for the enhancement of feeder roads to the highway. Then it's a good solution and someone else's money.

Tychoman 11 years, 2 months ago

Why wasn't this turn lane being considered when they spent weeks re-doing that very stretch of Iowa Street?

grimpeur 11 years, 2 months ago

The W. Campus commuter lot invites more people to drive into the center of town, and should have been built in Eudora (OK, East Hills). The Miss. St. garage invites more people to drive into the center of town.

I hear complaints about traffic, but nobody wants to change habits, and KU keeps accommodating the very behaviors we now recognize as problematic for everyone.

There is no law that states that KU must provide parking for every dang student, prof, and employee. If KU would stop inviting all these single-occupancy vehicles into the center of town (and would instead provide an alternative for Topeka and JOCO commuters--the JO connection is a good start but a drop in a vat of wasteful driving behavior), only then will traffic pressure start to be relieved.

As for the many able-bodied KU employees who live in Lawrence AND drive less than a mile alone, each way, every day AND expect a place to store their empty car for nine hours AND wonder why the streets are crumbling and why there is so much traffic: KU needs to put a stop to that crap starting now, with a moratorium on new parking on the Lawrence campus. It's costing all of us--city and state residents--a pile of money to subsidize this kind of wasteful behavior.

Optimize transit in town, establish regular and cheap commuter (train or bus) service between KC/Lawrence/Topeka, raise the price of KU parking permits, establish resident-only permits to relieve pressure in the neighborhoods surrounding KU and LHS, provide incentives for carpoolers (who should have enough already, go figure), and maybe, just maybe we'll see a change in the habits of our Lawrence-area driving public.

Traffic isn't that bad in Lawrence. Why do we delay needed transit services in major commuter corridors, but insist on subsidizing and encouraging the very behaviors we claim to hate? Are we waiting for traffic to become so bad that we're forced to make sensible transportation choices instead of planning ahead for them?

Don't like traffic congestion? Then don't add to it!

sourpuss 11 years, 2 months ago

Why don't people just watch where they are going?

Jamesaust 11 years, 2 months ago

Iowa St. from Harvard to University has been a problem for decades as anyone with a passing familiarity with the city would know. Your contempt for the intelligence of "the public" is itself contemptable.

Yes, things have gotten steadily worse. Used to be just a few local farmers and some horses. Then it was whole herds of cows. By the 1920s these "horseless carriage" things started crowding Lawrence's streets. Its a shame that those "developturds" ever allowed "sprawl" past Tennessee Street.

Some people on here seem to favor turning Lawrence into a non-fictional Brigadoon!

imagold 11 years, 2 months ago

Grimpeur - Did you/do you work? Drive/bike/walk/public transportation? Pay to park? Just curious.

The amount I pay to park on campus is already a ridiculous price. Paying to work...

I enjoy the "luxury" of being able to decide when I leave home and when I get to work and when I leave for home. Having to rely on a bus is not an option for me now. Even if it was, I'm not sure I'd choose to use it.

I don't drive to Iowa and 15th to get to Memorial Drive: would have to backtrack several miles plus 20 mph ped zone; round-a-fountain with traffic coming from two other directions; bus traffic. I go up Miss. Out of my way, but less of a hassle.

Where are they to put the no left turn signs on that stretch of Iowa St? There is one just south of Iowa and 9th on the west side of the street that "prohibits" left turns from Iowa onto the short street between Conoco and Citgo. Apparently many don't see it.

I like the concrete barrier idea. No left turn from southbound or westbound (side street) traffic with those in the way. And less expensive.

KsTwister 11 years, 2 months ago

Nice to see the amount of taxpayers money given for roundabouts so easily. Can't wait to see how much it costs 5 years from now when the curbs crumble and needs repairs. Assuming we choose to stay here,which we doubt.

grimpeur 11 years, 2 months ago

imagold asks: Grimpeur - Did you/do you work? Drive/bike/walk/public transportation? Pay to park? Just curious.

Yes, I work in Lawrence. Yes, I drive (I have a car and a truck), but I've only driven to work about 10 times in 10 yrs. I bike every day to work, rain or shine, and to the grocery, to restaurants, to meetings, band practice, etc. (guitar in a backpack case). I live close enough to work that I can walk in about 20 minutes, which I do when it's too icy to bike. I've used the T, but not to get to work. In fact, I've taken Amtrak more than the T. Pay to park: never at work.

I don't think of parking permits as "paying to work"--I consider them rental of valuable space to store, for nine hours, an empty vehicle that probably carries one person each way. When demand for these spaces is inflated by single-occupancy users who could easily walk to work, it drives up the price for everyone, KU oversells the permits, parking becomes a revenue source (even if only to support itself), and makes us think we need more parking.

When what we really need is less.

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