Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Light OK’d for N.H. St. crosswalk

City leaders address what some call a serious safety concern in downtown Lawrence. 6News reporter Jess Fray explains why city leaders hope spending more than $30,000 will stop disrespectful drivers.

July 2, 2008


Pedestrians won out over a tight city budget Tuesday night.

City commissioners at their weekly meeting approved a request for a new $35,000 pedestrian-activated crosswalk for the portion of New Hampshire Street between the Lawrence Arts Center and the city-owned parking garage.

"I think we've all had the experience of essentially playing dodge the car as you go across that section of the street," said City Commissioner Sue Hack.

Commissioners unanimously approved the request - after hearing several stories of pedestrian-vehicle conflicts - despite not having a clear funding source for the project.

But commissioners said the area presented enough of a safety concern that they asked staff members to come up with a recommendation on how to pay for the new traffic light.

Staff members and patrons of the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., urged commissioners to make the project a priority.

"I can tell you the center's board is concerned, the employees of the center are concerned and parents are concerned," said June Jones, the interim executive director of the Lawrence Arts Center.

Supporters of the Arts Center collected 150 signatures on a petition calling for the new stoplight. Several members of the public also told commissioners about near misses with vehicles, and reminded the commission of a 2003 accident when a pedestrian was struck and injured at the crosswalk.

City Manager David Corliss said he would look at money in the city's capital reserve fund as a possible source of money for the project. That funding may not materialize until 2009. Corliss, though, said he thought it may take more than a new light to fully address the problem.

"One of the concerns I have is that we're going to need to work with the police department to enforce this," Corliss said. "The drivers who aren't paying attention to this might be as likely to run a light as they are to run a yield sign today."

In other traffic safety news, commissioners:

¢ denied a request for a new midblock crosswalk in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street. Commissioners said they hadn't seen the necessary data to justify spending the approximately $15,000 for crosswalk. The crosswalk also was likely to eliminate nine on-street parking spaces along New Hampshire Street.

¢ agreed to lower the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph on Crescent Road between Engel Road and Naismith Drive. Commissioners said the reduction in speed was justified because of the large amount of pedestrian traffic generated by the nearby Kansas University dormitories.


Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

So I can get 150 people to agree with me and the city will build/make something for 35K! Sweet! Ok, might be needed, but people get hit at crosswalks with lights too.

1029 9 years, 10 months ago

150 people should not have the power to decide what is done with $35k. If someone I respected was circulating a petition, I'd probably sign it. Who wants to stand there asking questions and not help out a friend?So what other kinds of absurd petitions can we circulate? There are plenty of other intersections in town where only one person was struck and injured in the last 5 years. All we need is 150 signatures and "several members of the public" who are willing to tell their exagerrated tale of how they nearly avoided death one time while they were crossing a street.

gccs14r 9 years, 10 months ago

What all light-controlled intersections need is a series of large-diameter solid stainless-steel posts that pop out of the ground at the stop line when the light turns red that don't retract until it turns green. That'd put a quick end to running red lights and having cars stop in the middle of the crosswalk.

Laura Wilson 9 years, 10 months ago

Waste of money, yes, the belief that pedestrians don't have the right of way in a crosswalk is so completely wrong. Learn the rules of the road--maybe this is why so many drivers in this town are so careless.

hail2oldku 9 years, 10 months ago

"b3 (Anonymous) says: A complete waste of funds. If people in this town would pay attention when they cross the street there wouldnt be a problem."If the drivers in this town would pay attention this wouldn't be a problem either since it is clearly marked in the middle of the frickin' street to yield to pedestrians. Of course they aren't going to pay attention to the lights either.Here's a revenue idea for the city, place a cop at either end of the street and start ticketing the people that ignore the sign that's already there. The way people drive in Lawrence, you'll raise that $35k in no time flat.

alm77 9 years, 10 months ago

hawkperch-"I say start honking each time you go down New Hampshire and the dufi walk into the crosswalk without waiting until the cars have cleared." Um, the peds have the right of way. Thus the "yield" sign for the vehicles. Off - My kids don't cross that street alone. But have you never been with kids who are excited about getting somewhere? Mine have never had any near accidents, but it sure is nerve racking and like I said, was lots of kids use that walk. Kids are short, and hard to see, so yes, they should be taught to use extra caution, but drivers should watch and yield like the sign says. Maybe extra enforcement of the current policy would be more practical, and less expensive, and at least worth trying before installing the light.

1029 9 years, 10 months ago

Hey, if you make that petition about the three 6th Street traffic lights, can you add that they also should fix the 7th and Kentucky intersection? There's nothing like traveling northbound on Kentucky amidst a pack of 7 or more vehicles only to be stopped by the light at 7th Street when there are no vehicles traveling on 7th Street. The volume of traffic on Kentucky is easily 10-20 times that of 7th Street, yet the traffic light gives equal time to both directions (even in the middle of the night).

laughmonkeyboylaugh 9 years, 10 months ago

What all of you MORONS have failed to realize is that--no matter what location--it is the responsibility of the person driving the CAR to STOP at the crosswalk. It is NOT the responsibility of the pedestrian to stand and wait an hour and a half while all the IDIOTS SPEEDING down the street sail through the crosswalk because they can't be bothered to follow traffic laws. The yield signs REQUIRE drivers to stop, not the pedestrians to wait for a break in traffic.Dave Corliss had it right, though--a police presence will make the difference, light or no light. Once all of you pathetic nay-sayers get a few tickets, maybe there won't be a need for a stoplight.

Laura Wilson 9 years, 10 months ago

Oh please! There's a raised brick crosswalk! You think drivers can't see it!? I cross New Hampshire without benefit of a crosswalk twice a day to get from my work to my car and I've never been in any danger. If you have a crosswalk, cars are supposed to stop. If they don't, the fault is 100% theirs. You can get hit walking using a light just as easily as without if drivers are that inattentive.More money going down the drain in this town. What a surprise.

Eddie Muñoz 9 years, 10 months ago

The city could save all that money if people, pedestrians and drivers alike, would just pay attention to the world around them.I think a light there is unnecessary.

Alison Roberts 9 years, 10 months ago

Really? Spending 30k for a light there? Uhh, Ive never had a problem, or seen anyone not stopping for pedestrians. If they are so concerned....couldnt they just hire a crossing guard?

BigPrune 9 years, 10 months ago

Are there any pedestrian activated stop lights in moth balls from the time they yanked them when they were mid-block down Mass Street because they were ineffective?Shouldn't it be the supposed 300000 visitors a year to the Art Center paying for this? The 300000 figure was used as an excuse to get the center built.And last but not least, the police shouldn't have a problem enforcing it since they are leasing space from the city underneath the parking garage - does this make sense, the city leasing from the city?

Alison Roberts 9 years, 10 months ago

Dont get me started on the round-abouts... dear Lord, this town is obsessed with them. There's no way I should have to go through 2 of them on my way home. My hometown put them at the end of the ramps off the I-35, which I can understand, but here they put them in the most absurd places.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 9 years, 10 months ago

Ah yes, tight city budget and they put up a pedestrian traffic light to a so-so art center. Fantastic:===========I have seen dingbat drivers speed over the crosswalk as little kids were trying to cross the street to get to their art lesson. If this light saves the life of one child, then it is worth it. Let's do it for the children.

Boeing 9 years, 10 months ago

Ah yes, tight city budget and they put up a pedestrian traffic light to a so-so art center. Fantastic...Things never cease to amaze me around here

1029 9 years, 10 months ago

What a joke! Yeah, there's soooo much dangerous traffic on that street. Humans can really be pathetic and lazy at times. $35,000 for a something that will be used by only a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the Lawrence population. Why didn't the arts center raise a collection if this was something they needed so badly?

Confrontation 9 years, 10 months ago

Just another backwards way to dump money into the art scene. I bet the traffic light will be somehow connected to a $65,000 sculpture of a dancing pedestrian.

blahblahblah 9 years, 10 months ago

How's about they throw a couple of stop signs in there and increase the police presence and see what happens? That would probably save $34,900.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 9 years, 10 months ago

Note to all pedestrians....You may have the right of way but you still need to look for cars. Too many people in this town cross the street with nose in the air, apparently because they feel entitled to cross in front of anyone, anywhere. Unfortunately, not all drivers will stop and you're arrogance will get you dead!

ilovelucy 9 years, 10 months ago

What they NEED to do more is ban cars from parking parallel behind the parking garage. You can't see squat when trying to pull out of the garage. That is just as dangerous!

alm77 9 years, 10 months ago

There are kids in and out of there all the time. Mine included. I appreciate a stop signal.

Alison Roberts 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with the comment about how people dont wait until its clear to walk. I have been by that crosswalk numerous times when pedestrians have simply walked right out in front of cars...thats how people get hit. Honestly, who taught them to do that? Are they really in that much of a hurry to put themselves (and their children) in harms way? Dont they think that their kids will follow their lead down the road. Maybe its just me.... I dont walk on ANY crosswalk without looking for any sort of traffic, whether the crosswalk has a signal/light or not.

compmd 9 years, 10 months ago

Are people seriously dodging cars on a two lane road with a huge speed bump (the existing crosswalk) where the speed limit is probably 20mph? I mean, to dodge a car in that situation, you have to run as fast as you can directly at the car, and then change direction at the last second.Dodging cars on New Hampshire street. Give me a break. Reminds me of dodging a shot fired by a Mooninite.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

This is a good decision. Thanks Commissioners. To save money why not borrow two of the working traffic lights that are being replaced at 23rd and Harper?

gccs14r 9 years, 10 months ago

Drivers have to be willing to stop at the signs. There is no guarantee of that these days.

alm77 9 years, 10 months ago

Write to Chestnut with your bright ideas. I did. I posed some of the very same suggestions you did here. From the city

The_Voice_of_Reason 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm with imnotyoo... How much do two stop signs cost??? Although knowing the city the stop signs probably cost $40,000... each!

asbarkincat 9 years, 10 months ago

Let's spend $30000 on a pedestrian crosswalk like when the parking lot lights at Lyons Park havent been coming on at night for over a month now. Its very very dark between 7th and 8th street without these lights, and no street lights.

gccs14r 9 years, 10 months ago

It's long past time to tighten the licensing requirements for drivers. It's clear from the comments here that a frightening percentage of drivers have no idea how to operate a vehicle safely. Drivers should have to pass a written exam on driving theory, vehicle dynamics, and the driving laws (closed book), plus pass a multi-mode driving test that includes periods of inclement weather, darkness, and heavy traffic, with and without a trailer.

yoornotmee 9 years, 10 months ago

I think a pair of stop signs would be cheaper and still as effective.

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