Sometimes delays are good.
After city commissioners failed to get a project started to rebuild the intersection of North Second and Locust streets in 2008, the city ended up receiving $2 million in federal stimulus funding for the work in 2009.
“Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said Tuesday as commissioners formally accepted the stimulus dollars.
But sometimes delays aren’t good, and when it comes to getting fire trucks to North Lawrence during the road construction project, North Lawrence residents are worried about delays.
Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Association, said he’s concerned that during morning and rush hour traffic, emergency response times will be greatly delayed because three of the four lanes at the intersection will be closed.
Boyle’s group wants the city to place a fire engine in the city’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Center in North Lawrence, from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“If any of you have seen the traffic there at 6 in the morning, you know it is only going to take one instance of somebody having a heart attack or somebody’s house burning down to have a real tragedy,” Boyle said.
City commissioners directed staff members to examine how Boyle’s concerns could be addressed. Previously, staff members have recommended against placing a fire engine north of the river. Instead, the fire department committed to sending two units to each emergency in the North Lawrence area. One would come from the south through the affected intersection. The other would come from the north via the Kansas Turnpike.
The city also is proposing to place a special traffic light at Lyon Street about a half-mile north of Locust that will be activated by the lights and sirens of fire engines. The light would stop traffic at Lyon Street, keeping the intersection at North Second and Locust free of that traffic.
Commissioners did unanimously agree to rebuild the Locust Street intersection, although Commissioner Mike Dever was absent. The project includes widening the intersection to add a left-turn lane for North Second Street traffic. The intersection also will be changed to prohibit left turns onto Elm Street, a block south of Locust, from southbound North Second Street.
The project, which could begin as early as July, would require a detour for motorists. Southbound traffic on North Second Street would be restricted to one lane. The intersection would be closed to northbound traffic. Northbound traffic will be forced to use parts of Elm, North Third and Lyon streets to avoid the intersection. The detour could be in place through November.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved a bid of $748,211 from RD Johnson Excavating Co. to repave West Ninth Street from Iowa to Tennessee streets. The work is scheduled to be completed prior to Kansas University starting classes in the fall. Commissioners did direct the Traffic Safety Commission to consider a request from Michael Almon to remove parking from the south side of Ninth Street between Mississippi and Tennessee streets. The removal of that parking would allow for bike lanes to be installed on the street.
• Commissioners approved the use of Seventh Street between Kentucky and just east of Massachusetts to be used for a special sprint bicycle race July 3. The event is part of the Tour de Lawrence bicycle race that will be July 3 through July 5.