Archive for Monday, February 15, 2010

KDOT plans traffic study at Sixth and SLT

Management strategy wanted before further commercial development near intersection

Traffic backs up on an exit ramp from Kansas Highway 10 onto West Sixth Street. A study will be conducted on how to improve traffic flow at the intersection.

Traffic backs up on an exit ramp from Kansas Highway 10 onto West Sixth Street. A study will be conducted on how to improve traffic flow at the intersection.

February 15, 2010


Jim Flory lives at the western edge of Lawrence, and spends a bit of time driving on the South Lawrence Trafficway and U.S. Highway 40.

But the Douglas County commissioner considers himself fortunate that he doesn’t often need to negotiate the actual intersection of the two highways, especially when commuters converge there in the late afternoon and early evening.

“I’ve seen times when there’s 15 or 20 cars waiting to make a left turn onto 40 Highway,” said Flory, whose 3rd District includes the interchange and much of the surrounding area. “It really does back up.”

But the situation Flory describes as “frustrating” and others see as potentially dangerous — fellow Commissioner Mike Gaughan recently suggested posting sheriff’s deputies at the interchange to help direct traffic — remains stuck.

Law-enforcement agencies don’t have excess resources to steer into traffic control.

The interchange itself couldn’t even accommodate the installation of traffic signals, at least not until turn lanes and other construction could occur first.

Not that the state has any money to do so, anyway.

“There is no funding to take too many things too much further,” said Kim Qualls, a KDOT spokeswoman.

So state officials are doing what they can to keep traffic concerns from increasing.

KDOT is preparing to hire a consultant to compile an interchange management plan at the site. The study — to be financed by $67,000 from the state, plus $11,000 each from the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization — will be the first in the state to determine where and how traffic should be allowed to connect with U.S. Highway 40 in the area between East 800 Road to the west and George Williams Way to the east.

KDOT agreed to pursue the study because of what the future could bring to the interchange: large expanses of commercial development, which would be sure to drive increased traffic into the area and stretch the efficiency of existing roads and highways.

The goal: Avoid the problems that exist on stretches of Sixth and 23rd streets in Lawrence, where numerous driveways lead to congestion and other problems, said Mike Moriarty, KDOT’s corridor management administrator.

“We want to be a little more mindful of where future access points are on the western section,” he said. “Good transportation is good for business. That’s really what we’re trying to promote as part of this plan.”

The plan could call for widening U.S. 40 west of the trafficway, he said. Signals also could be planned for the interchange itself, along with necessary turn lanes and other changes.

Such changes, of course, would require money — money the state doesn’t have right now. The goal is to have the plan completed by the end of 2010.

Flory, for one, isn’t expecting major improvements soon.

“I don’t know of any inexpensive short-term resolution,” he said. “I just hope they’re looking at some good options that can help us down the road.”


CharlesinCharge 8 years, 4 months ago

The intersection was unsafe from the day it was opened. I shake my head each time I travel through that area thinking how it could have been constructed better. There a limited sight restrictions, confusing signs and many times I have seen people turning onto the frontage road instead of actually entering the trafficway. No long range planning was done when this intersection was built. Save the money on a management plan and use some common sense from someone that actually uses the intersection.

blackfox 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree. It has needed a signal since it was open!

Centerville 8 years, 4 months ago

High time! I go on to the Clinton Pkwy exit and backtrack, rather than try my luck at 6th St.

Matt Schwartz 8 years, 4 months ago

charles in charge hit it right on the head....yo an-ge-lur and sa-man-thur.

firemedic301 8 years, 4 months ago

I just wonder why they never put a clover leaf in? It seems to me that would solve alot of problems.

firebird27 8 years, 4 months ago

The larger problem is not this intersection. Rather it is the unwillingness of this city to limit urban growth. In an age when we speak of sustainability, reducing public costs (such as water and sewer infrastructure), Lawrence continues to support sprawl. We already have an incredible inventory of vacant commercial space. Improving this road and widening the highway will only feed the frenzy to develop Lawrence farther west.

Road improvements in of themselves are legitimate, but the reasons these road improvements are being made are far beyond safety. It is about commercial development with a narrow focus without regard to what has already been developed.

ralphralph 8 years, 4 months ago

Doin' it "Topeka-Style" ... sprawl, then build roads. It's all a bit bass-ackwards.

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

firebird27, I beg to differ. The only vacancies are apartment buildings and office buildings that the city embraced. Why does the city like banks so much and why can banks build anywhere they want to build, be it office or retail zoned? Why does the City need to have office space as a residential buffer even though there is retail already in specific areas? As for any retail vacancy, this goes back to the progressives who changed the code requiring more parking than necessary. Until its recent change a few months back, there is almost 5 years of restrictive city policies to overcome. It will happen, unfortunately the national economy is on the skids. A near great depression I'd say. When the government can't keep track of stimulus money going to car dealerships, how can they keep informed on the amount of people unemployed, underemployed, or just out of the system of unemployment recipients? When 100,000 people apply for mortgage relief and only 1400 get approved for that relief, what does that say? It says the housing market won't recover in the near future. Unemployment is realistically hovering around 20%. 25% is a depression. How did we get out of the depression before? We went to war. How did Germany get out of their depression? Hitler.

We'll either: a) go to war; b) become a dictatorship

What does any of this have to do with some study of 6th Street and what does this have to do with Lawrence?

Lawrence has been in a recession for 10 years because of limited growth. Better off today than 10 years ago? No way. 10+ years ago, Lawrence was allowed to grow. The socialist agenda doesn't work, case in point: Lawrence, KS.

possumhauler 8 years, 4 months ago

I live west of town & use this intersection at different times of the day. The people I see backed up waiting to enter 40 hwy I'm guessing pay alot of their income in taxes & would sure enjoy getting to their homes & families in a more timely fashion. I'm with the first post, please don't spend money you, we don't have on another "consultant". In some other parts of the country I've seen intersections equipped with single, constant yellow flashing lights facing thru traffic, just like some school zone lights, at certain times, the yellow lights are stopped and red flashing lights are turned on facing all points of entry, creating a temporary 4-way stop during high traffic times. Use signage to describe 4-way stop when flashing red light is operational.

Jimo 8 years, 4 months ago


How does a routine discussion of zoning policy end up wandering into Hitler, dictatorship, or "socialist agenda" BigPrune?

I'm pretty sure the situation can be addressed somewhere between the extremes of communist labor camps and unfettered, do whatever you want "growth".

nut_case 8 years, 4 months ago

LOL - too funny...when it comes to taking money to 'make us safe' (click-it or ticket, text-it ticket, or posting arbitrary and low speed limits then zap a select few who drive over the limit by some undetermined amount) government is all over that. When it comes to spending a few bucks to keep us safe - money is no where to be seen.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised...most of the 'job creation' seems to be in some form of government, yet the first things to be cut always seems to be 'teachers, police, and firemen'. Why do our leaders continue to resort to these silly "scare tactics"? We really deserve better!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 4 months ago

More studies! More drainage! More Astroturf!

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

Jimo, I was simply pointing out that Lawrence Progressives ruined our quality of life. We've been living it (piss poor economy) for 10 years and now the rest of the country is feeling it.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Developers and cars are very very expensive budget items for the taxpayers.

Developers and cars believe taxpayers are bottomless pits as they nickle dime us to death with a little help from city hall.

Developers and cars promote socialism!

kansasredlegs 8 years, 4 months ago

Why should KDOT have to bear the majority of the study?

When I spoke with KDOT representatives a couple of years ago when the City was trying to artificially lower the traffic warrant study (road engineered for 55 mph but City tried to make it 35 mph) along this stretch of 6th Street by having Lawrence police turn it into a speed trap, I was told by KDOT that this was a CIty-designed road despite the fact 6th Street is a State road (40 Highway). The City argured that it new its growth pattern better than the State and wanted to make sure that this particular area of road developed in an comprehensive manner.

That being the case, the poor design rests at the feet of Lawrence City Hall. Commissioners (even if not on the commission at the time) step up and accept responsibility for this mess.

If a traffic light is needed, it should only be utilized during times of high-volume traffic, travelers shouldn't have to sit at a light at midnight waiting for a light to cycle. If the improvements are not already in place for the lights, then someone (City) sure dropped the ball when the street was designed.

Could we just once "over engineer" something?

kansasredlegs 8 years, 4 months ago

LJWorld, could you pull the original 6th Street plan and print what the design and technical specifications were at the time this stretch of 6th Street was designed? What were the projected traffic studies? Are the predictions much different than the current volume of traffic? Seems that traffic volumes wouldn't even meet projections since the SLT hasn't even been completed.

Just a thought.

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