What would you do?
Kansas Turnpike Authority is looking to spruce up its roundabouts in Lawrence, and now you have an opportunity to speak up.
Whether you'd favor planting simple trees, installing bronze statues of Lawrence icons (anyone for Mario Chalmers hitting "The Shot"?) or otherwise adorning the nondescript grass mounds with something else, e-mail your name and your suggestions to email@example.com".
We'll compile a list for consideration by city, Douglas County and Kansas University leaders as they decide whether to accept the opportunity offered by turnpike boss Michael Johnston himself: to provide "a prominent location for some type of 'signature' display for the community or university, or both."
What would you do? ( .PDF )
Attention, city, county and KU leaders:
The Kansas Turnpike has a deal for you.
As pillars of the community, you have the opportunity to select something - anything, really - to go into the middle of two of the newest, highest-visibility roundabouts this side of the Chi Omega Fountain: one soon to open at exit 202, which feeds onto Iowa Street and toward the main entrance to Kansas University and another to be built in 2010 at exit 204, which empties into North Lawrence.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, would be to settle on that "something," then finance its installation and ongoing maintenance.
"The inside diameter of each roundabout is 184 feet, so there is plenty of room to accommodate great ideas," wrote Michael Johnston, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Turnpike Authority, in a letter to officials.
No word yet on whether the community partners are willing to take advantage of the opportunity, at least in any tangible way, although representatives of all three players have agreed to huddle up and, perhaps, devise a game plan.
¢ David Corliss, Lawrence city manager: "We're going to discuss and explore possibilities and communicate back to the turnpike authority here in the coming weeks."
¢ Lynn Bretz, a KU spokeswoman: "We'd be delighted to sit down with the city and county and discuss possibilities."
¢ Craig Weinaug, Douglas County administrator: "I don't have any opinions about what ought to be in a traffic circle, but it's something we could get excited about."
The roundabouts are part of the authority's $130 million project to update the interchanges and replace bridges in the area, including the two turnpike bridges that span the Kansas River at the northern edge of town.
The roundabouts are the first of their kind to be installed at turnpike interchanges, and therefore would be the first to accommodate community-financed features.
Otherwise, each roundabout would be little more than a one-lane ring of traffic-carrying concrete surrounding a gently sloped, grass-covered mound.
"There are many possibilities," said Lisa Callahan, a spokeswoman for the turnpike authority. "It's an opportunity to showcase the area - the city and county and university - in kind of a unique way. : It could be anything. It could be natural landscape, with maybe even just a small sign. It could be a (larger) sign. It could be a sculpture.
"I guess it's only limited to imagination, and then funding - and that can be limiting."