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Archive for Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Traffic foresight

Now is the time to take a broad look at how commercial development and traffic patterns will interact at a key intersection west of Lawrence.

February 16, 2010

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State and local officials are right to take a proactive approach to planning for traffic and commercial development on Sixth Street near its intersection with the South Lawrence Trafficway west of Lawrence.

Now is the time to take a comprehensive look at potential developments at the intersection and how motorists will have access to those developments. Too often, local officials have tended to address those issues on a piecemeal basis as development proposals arise rather than take a big-picture view. That approach has led to some less-than-ideal traffic configurations at places like South Iowa and 31st Street, a long stretch of 23rd Street and some spots on West Sixth Street.

To avoid such pitfalls near the trafficway on Sixth Street, which is part of U.S. Highway 40, the Kansas Department of Transportation is commissioning an “interchange management plan” at the site. The state will chip in $67,000 for the study, and the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the city-county planning office each will contribute $11,000.

It’s a good investment.

Because the SLT provides a key connection to the Kansas Turnpike north of Sixth Street, the intersection already handles a heavy traffic load, especially at peak commuting times. Although the need for traffic lights at the intersection already is apparent, there is no money right now to add the turn lanes and make other improvements that would be needed. Nonetheless, it’s good to have the study in hand so that when money becomes available, the plan is ready.

Perhaps the more important part of the study, however, is to guide commercial development at the intersection to provide adequate access to businesses without contributing to traffic problems at the site. It’s imperative that local officials take a big-picture view of development at this intersection, rather than dealing with each proposal individually without regard to how the whole intersection will develop.

As Lawrence continues to grow to the west, increased development at this intersection is inevitable; one corner already has zoning that would accommodate new big-box stores. Lawrence has too many traffic problems created primarily by a lack of sufficient foresight for how an area will develop.

KDOT and local government officials are doing the community a great service by trying to put planning ahead of development at this key intersection.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

It will be an intersection to avoid just as it is now. Why?

Because it is too busy now and the retail will be dead as it is now due to a flooded market. The more the market is further saturated the more residents of Lawrence will be taxed and taxed and taxed due to lack of economic growth. Economic displacement is a high tax dollar screw up.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

Roads,Cars and Developers are high tax dollar budget items in Lawrence,Kansas. Why?

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

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Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jul/24/retail-space/?letters_to_editor

anon1958 4 years, 10 months ago

The men and women that plan and approve traffic flow in this town are hare brained morons or they are corrupt and on the take. There really can be no other conclusion based on what is approved and built.

The evidence for my conclusion that they are either corrupt or just ignorant beyond measure is the newer gas station at 23rd and Haskell.

The developers were allowed to build a predictably dangerous exit from this business that allows a left hand turn to travel East on 23rd/Highway 10. The utter and complete irresponsibility of enabling people to exit and turn left at this location is an an astonishing disregard for public safety that whoever allowed this deserves to be fired immediately.

I think that the person or persons that reviewed and approved this plan probably would change the intersection at Haskell and 23rd into a two lane intersection controlled by a yield sign if you gave them a sufficient bribe. Actually this would be a better and safer solution than the current set up because virtually no one would be stupid enough to try and make a left turn here. This plan is also superior to the current arrangement at Haskell and 23rd because it would result in many fatalities of drivers that are too stupid to drive defensively. Now I know this sounds cruel and it would of course mean the death of innocent children, but on the upside it would be a really effective filtering by natural selection to remove the genes of idiots from the population but also any of their descendants at one time.

So where can I send my check, and who do I address it to in order to get this intersection changed from something foolish to something smart and helpful.

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For those few of you that are offended by my cruelty, I suggest you read this article by Jonathan Swift before putting fingers on keyboard and foot in mouth, "A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick."

kansasredlegs 4 years, 10 months ago

I certainly understand why there is no name on this editorial. The ignorance of the planning process oozes from the thoughtless lines scribed.

"State and local officials are right to take a proactive approach to planning for traffic and commercial development on Sixth Street near its intersection with the South Lawrence Trafficway west of Lawrence." ---- That proactive approach should have been thought while the improvement to 6th Street and the SLT were being DESIGNED, not after they are built. That's not how the process works. For example, one doesn't design and build Clintion Lake Dam, then commission a study to determine what might happen if it were to fail, do you?

"Now is the time to take a comprehensive look at potential developments at the intersection and how motorists will have access to those developments. " ---- Wrong. The time was during the planning and design phase. Officials already had in mind the plans for this area. Look at the City's Comprehensive Plan, I think it's called 'Horizon 2020'. It will show that the area was slated for commercial development. Don't really think officials were planning to build the SLT and extend a 4-lane 6th Street / 40-Highway so that the family farmer had better access to move his combine around to the fields.

"Too often, local officials have tended to address those issues on a piecemeal basis as development proposals arise rather than take a big-picture view." ---- You called this right. That's just what officials have done here.

“interchange management plan” --- No management plan was even considered when built, uh? I highly doubt that. However, the LJWorld should print the plan for full discussion. If no management plan, look at the fine print to find out why? Remember, the City, at its insistence, took over the design of 6th Street and if there is no "Interchange Management Plan", then the City is to blame. Don't let City Hall try to lay this at the feet of KDOT.

"It’s a good investment." WRONG. An 'interchange management plan' should have already existed in the original design. If not, read preceding statement. Great investment if the individual who penned this editorial will get some of that $89,000 "consulting fee."

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

The western leg was pushed through big government at a cost of about $50 million before the court rendered its' final decision. A cloverleaf will cost a million dollars or more.

Should big government cough up another $250 million to build an obsolete design that will NOT solve traffic problems?

What is there about this intersection that can change anything effectively? Rush hour is always rush hour congestion no matter how many lanes. Traffic will back up as it always does in rush hour. That's normal.

New lanes on 435 did not stop K-10 back up during rush hours. New roads bring more cars not less traffic.

Cars and developers are high tax dollar big government budget problems....not solutions.

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