Archive for Monday, December 7, 2009

City of Lawrence now seeks to create two well-lighted paths between campus and downtown

The city is looking to clear the way for plans to add two lighted pathways between the downtown and KU campus areas. The paths would help make the area safer.

December 7, 2009


When Kansas University student leaders approached the city last summer they had a simple complaint about the area between campus and downtown.

“The problem was there was no one route that was well-lighted and well-paved,” said Elise Higgins, community affairs director for KU Student Senate.

Now a plan has emerged that would build two lighted and paved paths between KU and downtown, if the city can win some federal grant money.

City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will be asked to allow staff members to move ahead on a $530,000 plan that would make sidewalk and lighting improvements along both 12th and 14th streets.

Staff members earlier this year had proposed about a $350,000 project that would have made improvements only along 12th Street. But Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant public works director, said further discussions with students revealed a strong interest in a 14th Street option as well.

“One student group did a survey asking what routes students would take,” Thiel said. “These two routes were selected, in large part, based on what we thought would be the most trafficked areas.”

The two routes staff members are now proposing:

• Along the north side of 12th Street from Oread Avenue to Vermont Street, then proceeding diagonally through South Park along an existing sidewalk to North Park Street.

• Along the north side of 14th Street from Louisiana Street to Ohio Street, then turning north along the west side of Ohio Street to 12th Street.

Both routes would use new lighting technology for the city. Thiel is proposing that 4-foot high, motion-activated pedestal lights be installed about every 20 feet along the paths. The lights would be on only when pedestrians were on the paths.

“We would get some energy savings,” Thiel said. “And if you are on the pathway and see the lights on up ahead, you would know someone else is there. We think there’s an added safety benefit to them.”

Also new to the proposed project are two pedestrian-activated crossing signals. Thiel is proposing one crossing at the intersection of Tennessee and 12th streets and one at Kentucky and 12th streets.

Both paths are expected to be built on existing city rights-of-way.

But the two-route approach has increased estimated costs by about $200,000, and now the city will have to rely heavily on a federal grant to fully complete the project.

Staff members are seeking permission to apply for about $175,000 from a federal transportation enhancement grant. Thiel said if the city doesn’t receive that grant money, the city would focus on building only the 12th Street option.

The city also is seeking about $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant money. The city is expected to receive about $800,000 in CDBG money to distribute projects and organizations that meet the federal guidelines. Originally, the path project was expected to seek about $150,000 in CDBG money.

Other expected funding sources for the project include $150,000 from KU and $50,000 from the city’s general fund.

Higgins — who brought concerns up after seeing an increase in the number of assaults in the area — said she’s optimistic the city will be able to build at least one of the two paths in the near future. She said student groups will promote the paths as the official route to downtown in hopes that high usage would create a “safety in numbers” scenario.

If funding comes through, work on the project likely would begin in August and take about 120 days to complete, Thiel said.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


kusp8 8 years, 4 months ago

Good work Elise on getting this started!

tao7 8 years, 4 months ago

This is ridiculous! How about making people fix the broken sidewalks and put in better lighting for the whole Oread neighborhood! What about the rest of us who live in these neighborhoods who actually care about keeping our sidewalks nice and keep them up to code. This wouldn't be a problem if the city would do the right thing to start with!!

classclown 8 years, 4 months ago

How about the students pay a fee to pay for this? They want it, they can pay for it. Let the student leaders collect the money from all the students.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 4 months ago

Do away with all the sidewalks and put in trees. There is no reason for anyone to be out walking the streets when there is a perfectly good bus system. Go green!

workinghard 8 years, 4 months ago

Drove up to the campus on 14th the other night from Tennessee, looked pretty well lit to me. Guess I have a different opinion of what is well lit.

lwctown 8 years, 4 months ago

How about a well lighted four lane path around the south side of the city. Have it run from the west exit from I-70 around the south side of the city and then connect into highway 10 on the east side.

lily 8 years, 4 months ago

I hate to admit it but cheeseburger may be on to something. I agree that 14th seems pretty well lit. I don't see a problem with12th street being better lit but Ohio street also involves a lot of bar traffic. If they do this and the lights are on a lot after midnight, that tells you who is using them.

Isaias Shannon 8 years, 4 months ago

Let's hope that if they do complete this, that the paths are made of asphalt instead of concrete and therefore appropriate for runners as well as walkers (unlike the worthless concrete "trails" that are springing up all over town!)

littlebird 8 years, 4 months ago

This is just a waste of money, I don't care if the federal government is going to kick in all or none. Fix the actual city infrastructure and you don't need to do all this.

bevy 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey, if it keeps students walking drunk instead of driving drunk, I'm all for it!

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how Irish gets to the bus stop...flying perhaps?

igby 8 years, 4 months ago

This is stupidity!


This is just stupidity and more money for something thats going to be an ongoing problem. The city can't even keep the street signs up because of the drunk revelers stealing them and tearing them down.

All that needs to be done is to keep the dam street lights on and take them off the timers. Leaving the lights on will cost a lot less than a $530,000.00 , plus the ongoing cost of the weekly repairs of the ripped out lamp post.

This is just a publicity stunt because the crime rate is up in the district. These light will just be a waste of money so that the city can say: "we made it safer", when in reality, all this does is give people a false sense of security.

The night traffic in this district is not "from campus to downtown", its roaming droves of drunk students walking from bars into the district to party at a house party. No one walks from downtown to campus on this side of the hill at night.

Every victim that got robbed in the district was drunk, walking from downtown to their car parked somewhere in the district. They did not even live in the district anyway.

social_networking 8 years, 4 months ago

It's one of those idea's that looks great on paper, but wont turn out as useful as planed... I agree it does seem like a waste, but hey its only my taxes.

workinghard 8 years, 4 months ago

Reminds me of the time the city decided to keep the Community Building open late and have basketball at midnight thinking it would get the kids off the streets downtown. Didn't go over very well, guess the kids just weren't interested.

Nathan Anderson 8 years, 4 months ago

I'd hate to live along one of these lighted high-traffic paths. Expect an increase in property damage by the drunken college kids.

Curtis Lange 8 years, 4 months ago

4' high lights? lol, those wouldn't last a week without being destroyed.

ksarmychick 8 years, 4 months ago

Couldn't this just be solved by people who live in this area turning on their porch or front lights?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Why make female students wait for a grant? Students spend a ton of money in this town lets show them some respect and concern for their safety.

Students are paying for this however I believe 4 foot lights would not be adequate lighting for it would NOT light up surroundings that which is necessary to keep molestors at bay.

Women deserve a lot of light that which would provide defense against women molestors .... a big problem in Lawrence,Kansas.

YES students are paying for this everyday they are here. Students dump tons of money into Lawrence,Kansas = tons of tax revenues. They are the most sound and fiscally responsible investment yet. Too bad powers that be could not see to expand on education instead of cookie cutter homes and strip malls.

The city should take this student safety issue a bit further.

Perhaps the City of Lawrence should be green enough to provide two " Inner Urban Pedestrian - Cyclists Safe Pathways".

Create pathways on two of the most dangerous streets for both pedestrians and cyclists aka Tennessee and Kentucky. The right of way is available aka existing sidewalks and there is a ton of bike and pedestrian traffic in these areas at all hours.

  1. Widen sidewalks on the eastside of each street to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.
  2. Light them up
  3. Provide cross walk signs and markings at each intersection from 7th to 19th to increase awareness of drivers
  4. Decrease speed by 5 mph from 7th to 19th
  5. In the process the city is making it safer for women = rape prevention.
  6. Name these pathways after Rachel.

The investment is small compared to the safety that could be provided. KU students are worth the investment considering the number of jobs they generate and tax dollar revenue they generate. Students bring life and culture to Lawrence,Kansas.

Investing in the safe travel of our student population would most certainly be recognized by potential students. Let's increase the safety of the student population because they bring life,jobs and revenue to Lawrence, Kansas.

Students never ask for a tax abatement they pay their own way!

cowboy 8 years, 4 months ago

How about the city just pays for lights to be installed in these walkway homes for the owners. I'd estimate you could install a relatively nice light post for less than 800 dollars for labor and the light. 530,000 / 800 = 662 homes. Id guess that there are 120 homes on these paths . 96,000 dollars

Set up with decent bulbs they use little wattage , the homeowner gets a free improvement and we save the city 430,000.

But the city can turn a 10 cent problem into a million dollar one in a heartbeat.

funkdog1 8 years, 4 months ago

I think this is a great idea. Not only for the students but for the multitudes of football fans that descend on the Oread neighborhood on game days.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 4 months ago

The only way this would be safe, would be to have the motion activation operate in 360 degrees from each light. If not bad guys would wait in the dark on the opposite side of the walkway. As inexpensive as high pressure sodium street lights are, electricity wise, it would make more sense to keep the area lighted all night long. I know I wouldn't feel safe trying to watch around me with 4' lights that are off ahead of and behind me. Poor plan. What is the price of electricity compared to a young persons life? Thank you, Lynn

yankeevet 8 years, 4 months ago

Tax money wasted!! Just carry a flashlight; much cheaper;

yankeevet 8 years, 4 months ago

If u fear the bad guys; just carry the flashlight; and a glock; it works very good; lol................

d_prowess 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Lynn731 in wondering how effective this safety measure would be. Are they turned on by motion detectors? If so, could someone just block the motion detectors on a few of them and then wait for someone to come along?
It just seems like anyone that pre-meditates this type of crime can get around the lights if they have some type of on-off system. I guess I would like to hear more information about how they work and why they couldn't be disabled by someone with intent.

JustNoticed 8 years, 4 months ago

These things will be a maintenance nightmare. And notice how they are really a path for the swells at the big hotel to get downtown.

thatonedude 8 years, 4 months ago

Good lord, do any of you know what you're talking about? You complain that there are other places where there could by new lighting. Do what students have been trying to do for years and LOBBY FOR IT. Go down to city commission meetings (everyone's allowed to, and to speak) and state your case. Somebody on the commission not being cooperative? Soon enough they're going to have to run for reelection. Make that hard for them.

Worried about maintenance, or how the lights actually work? ASK SOMEONE. I've seen plans for the motion-sensor lights, and they do work from 360 degrees (how else would they even work?), and they're not quite as frail as "yield" signs on flimsy posts.

d_prowess 8 years, 4 months ago

why go to a city commission meeting when someone like "thatonedude" knows so much?
So if they work from 360 degrees, what prevents someone just putting a bag over it to prevent it from recognizing any motion and waiting for someone to walk by?
it just seems like everyone is trying to create some overly complicated system of lighting that will achieve the same thing some normal street lights like the ones we have lining downtown.

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