Archive for Sunday, July 6, 2008

Traffic problems spur city to restripe Tennessee St.

Paul Hahn says many of his neighbors' cars have been sideswiped by passing cars along Tennessee Street south of 19th Street. Hahn, pictured on Thursday at rush hour, asked the city to repaint the center line, and this time, accommodate for the parking spaces on the west side of the road.

Paul Hahn says many of his neighbors' cars have been sideswiped by passing cars along Tennessee Street south of 19th Street. Hahn, pictured on Thursday at rush hour, asked the city to repaint the center line, and this time, accommodate for the parking spaces on the west side of the road.

July 6, 2008


Paul Hahn remembers when he could park on Tennessee Street without worrying about his car.

For five years, before the street was repaved two years ago, Hahn, 44, would park his car on the west side of the 1900 block of the street without a second thought. But after the repaving was done, something changed.

"The factor is when the line was painted in the wrong place," he said.

Once Tennessee Street, between 19th and 23rd streets, had plenty of room for street parking. "You could drive a school bus down there, and it would still have room," Hahn said of the old alignment.

The repaving project moved the dividing line squarely to the middle of the street. Now, cars passing those parked along the curb have only eight feet of room to maneuver.

As Hahn and several neighbors found out, the tight squeeze has resulted in missing mirrors and several accidents caused by vehicles being sideswiped.

"Parking on the street is a have-to for us," said Hahn, whose home, like many on the street built in the 1940s and '50s, has a narrow driveway, making it difficult to exit the driveway or park multiple cars. But the realignment made it dangerous to even access the street from a driveway, he said.

Hahn said he called the city several times to complain, but no action was taken. One person told him that the vinyl traffic lines would be difficult to replace because they are embedded in the pavement.

Construction on 19th Street has increased traffic on Tennessee, compounding the problem for residents.

"We used to be able to play catch in the road, and now it seems like there's car after car," said Jay Howell, 21, whose 1996 Honda Civic suffered $1,500 of rear-end damage in early June after a collision.

"I don't want to have that happen again," he said. "My car is not worth that much, and I had to put half of what it's worth into fixing it."

Now, Tennessee Street residents are getting their wish.

Public Works Director Chuck Soules said plans for the milling and overlay, which took place in July 2006, called for new striping for the 31-foot-wide street.

After investigating the complaints of Hahn and his neighbors, the city has recommended realigning the traffic line to its old position. Soules sent traffic engineers to survey the street and they recommended the realignment, he said.

"It improves the traffic patterns. It improves the drivers' sense in terms of feeling safe," Soules said.

Soules estimates the striping to cost less than $5,000, and the project will be paid for by surplus left over from other street projects. Work on the street is expected to begin on July 14 and finish within a few days, Soules said.

Hahn was pleased to hear that the striping will be replaced, but he wishes actions were taken before cars were damaged.

"I'm obviously really glad they're doing it," he said. "At the same time, I'm a little frustrated that I had to talk to so many people over such a long period before anything happened."


welch 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree... what about 9th street. NO lines

Chris Ogle 9 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it's time to have inspections on city work, just like the private sector. Wait a minute.... the city... inspecting the city?? forget that one. We have enough supervisors and inspectors. Why don't they simply do the job they were hired to do. (and no, we don't need to hire a consultant to see if superivisors are doing a good job) Just look around.

Paul Hahn 9 years, 9 months ago

"About a month ago while driving along that very block of Tennessee Street I knocked the mirror off a car-even though I was just BARELY inside the yellow line, and had to be because of oncoming traffic."That's five cars then that have been hit. I wasn't aware of your case."Now I feel that the city really should reimburse me for the $173 I paid to replace that young man's mirror-and the $250 it will cost to replace mine."They WILL. Talk to the City Manager's office. They have a claims process just for these situations. The Assistant City Manger told me that herself.Cimere's experience is what's been happening daily: drivers had to chose between risking losing a mirror on the right, or a head-one collision on the left.

chimere 9 years, 9 months ago

About a month ago while driving along that very block of Tennessee Street I knocked the mirror off a car--even though I was just BARELY inside the yellow line, and had to be because of oncoming traffic. If I had moved even a few inches to the left I would have suffered a head-on collision-and I had two children in the car with me at the time! Of course, I didn't realize that the only way to pass the parked cars without hitting them was to cross over into the other lane.It cost me $173 that I could ill afford to replace the mirror for the owner of the car. He and his roommate told me, though, that I am the ONLY person who has ever stopped to offer to pay for such damage. This tells me that people who have to park their cars there must be suffering a lot of expense repairing damage caused by drivers who don't stop and offer to pay. The young man who owns the car that I hit is a KU student, and it was quite evident that he would have been in even worse shape than I if he had been forced to come up with that $173! (I now have to come up with $250 to replace my own passenger side mirror, since that is what I hit his mirror with.)I am the proverbial "little old lady driver." I am 58 years old, and this is, literally, the very first accident I have ever had while driving! I drive carefully, never exceed the speed limit, and never break any rules of the road.Now when the detour for 19th Street construction forces me to head south on Tennessee south of 19th (i.e., every single day, sometimes more than once a day), I always go left over the yellow line in order to pass the cars parked on the right side of the road. The day that I hit the mirror on the other car, though, I could NOT have crossed over the yellow line to pass safely, because there was a lot of oncoming traffic and I would have had a head-on collision if I had done so. If I had realized how ridiculously little clearance there was on my side, I would have simply stopped the car (ignoring the angry honks that would certainly have provoked from drivers behind me) and waited for oncoming traffic to clear. But it didn't even occur to me before my own little accident that the city would have painted a yellow line in a place that would mean anyone who stayed inside his or her own lane would almost certainly hit a car parked on the side of the road.Since crossing over into the other lane means risking a head-on collision, the safety issue there is outrageous. Now I feel that the city really should reimburse me for the $173 I paid to replace that young man's mirror-and the $250 it will cost to replace mine.

Paul Hahn 9 years, 9 months ago

Actually, I never talked to Soules. I spoke with the city traffic engineer and others in his office. They (specifically the traffic engineer) were the ones who said "It is a problem, and we aren't fixing it."A little additional info: in two years, 4 cars were hit over about the length of a block. Jay and I were lucky, the other two were totalled out.Also, the story says there is about eight feet of wiggle room. There's really only about 4 feet to work with if there's a car parked.

onceinawhile 9 years, 9 months ago

Should citizens talk to the city traffic engineer, then, to get this done on other streets in town that need new striping?Emery Road (off 9th Street) is an extremely dangerous, winding road that's popular to KU students walking to campus and bikers alike. The striping on that road is practically non-existent and it's only a matter of time before there's an accident (if there hasn't been already).

frankwiles 9 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm not aware of the complex engineering required for this project, but doesn't it seem $5,000 is pretty high to repaint a dotted line?

poop2scoop 9 years, 9 months ago

The city deliberately put citizen's property, safety and lives at risk by committing (or allowing) an obvious blunder then refused to correct it for two years.This Tennessed street problem is one example of many that reflects a serious downward spiral of our city, county and local state government. These lapses of responsiblity and accountability to the citizens are common occurrances.

KsTwister 9 years, 9 months ago

While they're doing touch up mishaps they should do something about the manhole covers on 9th street hill too. Just tired of seeing cars jarred all over the road.

sourpuss 9 years, 9 months ago

Finally. I am glad the city stepped up to correct its mistake. Kudos, citizens, for demanding this be put right. May your mirrors be strong and your bumpers be dent-free!

Joe Hyde 9 years, 9 months ago

I'm very happy that this centerline is being moved east a few feet so that it marks the middle of the "navigable roadway".The way it's been, that made for a nerve-racking trip south on Tennessee. My biggest fear when passing that line of parked cars so closely was that a child might dart out from between two of the cars. Consequently, if no oncoming vehicles were heading north I would violate the law by straddling the centerline to create safe space between me and those parked vehicles.That won't be necessary soon, and I'm grateful to Mr. Hahn and Mr. Soules for taking care of this.

Thats_messed_up 9 years, 9 months ago

"Lawrence traffic engineer" LOLOLOLOL Now THAT"S Funny!!!!!!!!!!!

lawrencian 9 years, 9 months ago

Chimere, you don't use the passenger side mirror at all when you drive? Wow.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 9 months ago

"Chimere, you don't use the passenger side mirror at all when you drive? Wow."She must be from out of town. It seems most Lawrence drivers don't use ANY of their mirrors. Except for matters of vanity (shaving and make up).

chimere 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Hahn--I am guessing that the reason you didn't hear about the car I hit is that I found the owner's house within minutes and left my name and number with his roommate. The car owner contacted me a couple of days later, and we went to have the mirror fixed the very next day. Since he didn't suffer any loss, he probably didn't feel the need to mention it to his neighbors.Thanks for letting me know about the possibility of being reimbursed, though. I have virtually no income in the summer, so paying for that mirror was a major hit to my budget, and as for my own mirror, I can't afford to have it replaced at all right now. I figured I could wait a few months to take care of mine, since it is on the passenger side of my car, and I actually have never even used it, so not having it doesn't impair visibility or affect safety.But I honestly don't feel that I was actually responsible for the accident, since crossing over the yellow line into oncoming traffic was not a reasonable option, and I had no reason to assume that the city had not made sure there would be sufficient clearance as long as I stayed right inside the yellow line. Obviously, I very much prefer the idea of having the city (the actual responsible party) pay for the damage to both cars.

FormerCentralKansan 9 years, 9 months ago

Lawrence has a city traffic engineer? Are you serious? Does he/she actually do anything?

gr 9 years, 9 months ago

What happens if someone crossed the line to avoid hitting a parked car, but they had a head on collision? The police writes you up, the insurance company jacks up your rates, but the city put the line in the wrong place. If they had put it in the correct place, you wouldn't have hit someone. But, the oncoming driver was misled by the incorrect line, so could not be blamed for failing to make room. Who's fault would that be and who pays? Would the city pay for the accident fine and increased insurance premiums?

coolmarv 9 years, 9 months ago

Did you ever notice when traveling west from Iowa on 31st street that it is real hard to see the white lines and that the cuts in the road don't match up with the lanes. People are always crowding the car beside them because of that.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 9 months ago

spiderham, once again, stop emailing me. I notice you're trying to attract traffic to that odious 'forum' again. Remember how that turned out last time?

chimere 9 years, 9 months ago

gr--I just went down to the City Manager's office to fill out a claims form. On the form, they ask whether I have submitted the costs to my insurance company. I didn't, because the total of parts plus labor to replace the two mirrors will be $420 (of which I have already paid the $175.33 for the young man's mirror). I am hoping they won't disallow my claim for compensation just because I did not file an insurance claim, but I have never had a ticket or an accident, so I didn't want to file a claim that could harm my driving record and jack up my insurance premiums, especially since I doubt that insurance would cover such a small claim, once my deductible was figured in.When I had to drive on Tennessee Street today, I noticed that they have already done the restriping. Wow! What a huge difference it made. So much so that I actually giggled in delight while driving that block!

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