Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Iowa Street turn-lane project voted down

March 28, 2007


City commissioners said no thanks to a possible $700,000 state grant to help build a center turn lane on an accident-prone portion of Iowa Street after several neighbors expressed concern about the project.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting decided on a 4-1 vote not to ask the Kansas Department of Transportation to allow the city to use a previously awarded $700,000 grant to build a turn lane on Iowa Street from Harvard Road to University Drive.

Commissioners sided with several neighbors who live between Iowa Street and the Kansas University campus who expressed concerns that the turn lane would make it easier for people to cut through the neighborhood to get to KU. Neighbors said the city needs to work with KU to come up with a comprehensive solution to move traffic in and out of KU.

"We're doing a knee-jerk response here," said Bill Skepnek, who lives on University Drive. "The staff of the city should get together with the staff of KU and really deal with the root of the problem."

Commissioners, though, also heard from several neighbors who said they supported the project. Faye Watson, who lives on Crescent Road, said the stretch of Iowa Street was badly in need of safety improvements. The stretch of road has had 48 accidents in the last two years, according to city statistics.

"This is an issue that has to be addressed," Watson said. "We just can't put it off any longer. Having a continuous turn lane on that street is vital."

Commissioners agreed a turn lane may be necessary on the street, but said they did not want to move forward on the project until a comprehensive plan could be developed that would show what other projects would be needed to address concerns about cut-through traffic in the neighborhood. Some examples mentioned were improvements to the 15th and Iowa streets intersection and improvements to Ninth Street.

But by waiting until a plan can be completed, the city likely will not be able to use the $700,000 state grant, said Chuck Soules, the city's public works director. He said the state had a deadline of next week to hear from the city on whether it wanted to use the state safety grant for the project.

The state had said in February that Lawrence qualified for $700,000 in safety grant funding. It originally had recommended the grant money be used to build a roundabout at 19th Street and Naismith Drive, a roundabout near the Sixth and Iowa streets area, or realign the intersection of Ninth Street and Avalon Road.

City officials had asked the state to consider allowing the city to use the $700,000 in grant money for the Iowa Street turn lane project because the three recommended projects were deemed difficult and likely controversial. KDOT leaders said they would consider allowing the city to use the grant money for the Iowa Street project, if city commissioners first endorsed the project.

Mayor Mike Amyx was the lone commissioner who voted to have the state consider the Iowa Street turn lane project. He said because construction work couldn't begin on the project until 2009, the city had enough time to develop a comprehensive plan for the area and still take advantage of the grant money. The total cost of the project was expected to be about $1.2 million.


pelliott 11 years ago

Ku should stand up, too long they just shrug their shoulders at the neighborhoods, their new welcome sites should have included new lanes to their parking garage and campus center.

Sigmund 11 years ago

This decision protects the neighborhoods and families which virtually every candidate for the Commission claims they are for. When the rubber hit the road this City Commission lived up to their rhetoric and I must give them each their props.

I would hope that once Kasold gets opened up completely, it will relieve some of the pressure on Iowa. I would hope that KU could be persuaded to open up their bottleneck off of 15th. Southbound Iowa appears to have enough width to support two south bound lanes and two left turn lanes into campus. If that campus bottleneck could be widened that would help to get left-to-campus traffic off of Iowa quicker.

If during the PLC dominance of the Lawrence City Commission there had been more consensus building, more compromise, and fewer 3-2 block partisan voting the current Commission race would be much less contentious.

hipper_than_hip 11 years ago

On the north side of Sixth at Schwartz the city installed a barrier to keep traffic from turning north onto Schwartz; maybe they could do something like that.

JSDAD 11 years ago

cant they just make that part of iowa no turn (ie. 23rd street)during busy hours and avoid all this other mess, or make them out only streets such schwarts. is this just too simple?

pelliott 11 years ago

hawkperch, there are two parking garages.

dthroat 11 years ago

OK, I have to call BS when I see it. This DOES NOT protect any neighborhood. The people turning at these intersections will turn regardless if there is a turn lane or not. These are people living in the Greek houses trying to get to their places. They will CONTINUE to turn. I really don't think a lot of people will suddenly decide to turn there just because there happens to now be a turn lane.

Another point is why do you live there???? It has been the same type of neighborhood for the 25+ years I have lived here. If you don't like that traffic WTF did you choose to buy a house there??

Oh, and BTW, jsdad - Amazing enough several years ago the city hired "consultants" at an inflated price to study that issue (making no left turns). This was AFTER a person who lives in town and is/was I think working for KDOT said that would be a good idea. Gee, for several thousands of dollars, the consultants agreed with the FREE advice and said there should be some sort of median installed.

GUESS WHAT - the neighbors didn't like that idea as it might inconvience them and the commissioners at the time gave into them.

In this town common sense just doesn't apply if it p**** off the neighbors. The commissioners are supposed to make decisions for the good of the majority of the people, not just for a few (high dollar) neighbors.

I guess if you or I get rear-ended because somebody wants to turn left it is OK, because the neighbors didn't want change.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years ago

Please then use the dough to put in a turn lane for westbound 6th St. to southbound Iowa St. Then put in a turn lane for the 6th and Eldridge St. area (the only two parts of 6th St. from downtown to west K-10 without turn lanes and both sites of many, many accidents.) Maybe try to get state or federal monies to totally redesign the 6th and Iowa intersection. Doesn't Dennis Moore owe us some pork? Boyda too? If its gonna go somewhere, why not here?

radrhett 11 years ago

I completely agree with dthroat on this issue. It takes forever to get across town because there are only a few major trafficways. That area bottlenecks constantly when there is any kind of traffic and is definitely a safety concern. Center turn lanes on major streets makes sense and is commonly done elsewhere. And we could get free money for the project? Hmm. Tough call.

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