City officials seem a bit cavalier about the importance of properly maintaining the lines that mark driving lanes on Lawrence streets.
Clearly marked lanes are a basic component of driving safety in the city.
Special problems arose this summer because of the gooey liquid asphalt that was used to repair cracks in a number of city thoroughfares. In additional to raising concerns among motorcyclists who reported losing traction on the slimy stuff, the black goo also obscured lane markings that may already have dimmed with age.
In some cases, crews were hired to repaint the lines, but the city’s traffic engineer, David Woosley, said he wasn’t sure the city would have enough money to do all of the restriping that is needed. “You just have to prioritize,” he said.
That phrase has been used often in recent years as Lawrence tackles a huge backlog of street maintenance projects. Even with new sales tax revenue dedicated to trying to catch up on those projects, the overall condition of many Lawrence streets remains an embarrassment.
We understand that it is a matter of priorities, but maintaining lane markings is a safety issue. Especially when visibility is poor — at night or during a thunderstorm, for instance — clear, bright lines marking traffic and turning lanes are vital to the smooth flow of traffic. Markings that have been obscured by repair work or have simply faded with age, pose a real driving hazard.
The list of needed street improvements still is long. Cold weather isn’t that far away and potholes still haven’t been fixed from last winter. A few streets, such as Ninth Street west of downtown, got a major upgrade this summer, but those streets are the exception to the rule for Lawrence drivers.
New lane markings aren’t the only priority for street repairs, but a relatively small investment by the city in paint and labor could make a big difference in the safety of city streets.