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Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lighting system proposed for Pinckney School tunnel

May 26, 2011

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Pinckney School

There may be light at the end of this tunnel, but it doesn’t produce much optimism.

When it comes to the pedestrian tunnel that travels beneath Sixth Street near Pinckney School, the smell usually overshadows everything else.

“On certain days it is scary,” said Thomas Huang, an Old West Lawrence resident who has two children who use the tunnel to walk to school. “There are days where there’s standing water and you can still smell the urine.”

Then, there is the reading material. It is scrawled on the walls in the form of graffiti, and most certainly isn’t on the suggested reading list for elementary students.

“I’ve continually described the area as depressed, at best,” Huang said.

But Huang, who also is an associate professor of industrial design at Kansas University, thinks the tunnel could be turned around. A group of his students has put together a plan that would line the tunnel with LED tiles that would create a bit of a light show as pedestrians walk through the tunnel.

The current plan calls for the tunnel to emit a blue glow during the day — and then when a pedestrian passes through, an orange shadow would appear on the wall. At night, the color scheme would be flip-flopped.

But there is a part of the project that may scare City Hall leaders — its cost. Public Works Director Chuck Soules estimates the improvements would cost about $600,000.

“It sounds like a cool project, but on the list of priorities it may be tough to find funding for because we have all types of infrastructure and sidewalk issues,” Soules said.

But Huang said he’s not expecting the city to come up with the full funding. Instead, he hopes that city commissioners will be open to the idea and allow staff members to apply for state or federal transportation grants to fund the project.

But if the project won federal or state funding, the city likely would have to provide matching funds, perhaps up to 20 percent of the project’s cost.

Huang, though, said the city should consider it. He said the tunnel is an important piece of infrastructure that allows not only students but adults to cross Sixth Street safely.

He and his group of four students have discussed the idea with Pinckney PTO, and the Old West Lawrence and Pinckney neighborhood associations.

Huang said the reception has been good, and he thinks the project could be a community-building exercise because it involves several aspects valued in the city — pedestrian-friendly design, art and education.

Plus, he thinks the project would be effective in cutting down on the inappropriate activity that happens in the tunnel.

“If you look at the murals around town, people tend not to mess with those,” he said. “I’m an idealist. I believe that if people think there is something beautiful worth appreciating, they are not going to mess with it.”

City commissioners are tentatively scheduled to hear a presentation from Huang and his students at the June 14 City Commission meeting.

Comments

laika 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't want to be one those typical curmudgeon posters who are usually on here, but $600,000 just to light the tunnel in a more suitable way? That is pretty steep, even though it sounds like a great idea they have.

Perhaps they can find significant outside funding, but if they city is still on the hook for 20% it still doesn't sound feasible. That is near the total contribution the city is making for the lighted path from KU to downtown, which covers a much larger area and includes, I believe, the cost of redoing several sidewalks.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 6 months ago

$600,000 would be considered to be just about nothing at all, if just one student was killed trying to cross 6th Street to get to school.

tanaumaga 3 years, 6 months ago

who needs light during the day to go through the tunnel?

laika 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you arguing that students will avoid the tunnel unless it is not refurbished with a $600,000 lighting system? No one is saying that the tunnel has to be shut down if $600,000 is not spent. If you are argument is that students will avoid it if it is not improved, that seems more plausible.

Currently it is basically functional, I ride my bike through there a few times a month. If they can't come up with money to fund their project then the city should consider cleaning up and lighting the tunnel, to ensure it is used, but I don't think that will take $600,000.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 6 months ago

If $600K is spent on that, I don't care where the tax money comes from, grant or otherwise, that is just insane. Their has to be some cheap way to get some lighting.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm wondering if an overhead passway could be built to cross 6th Street for $600,000.

Tanya Spacek 3 years, 6 months ago

There's already a beautiful mural there, and people leave it alone. Why get a bunch of LED tiles that will get smashed before a month is out?

password 3 years, 6 months ago

isn't pinckney one of the elementary schools that might be closed?

Nikki May 3 years, 6 months ago

That's what I was thinking. Further, isn't this tunnel a problem during the school day since it exits onto the school's property. (I'm not positive on that, but I'm thinking this is the case). I know that I wouldn't like strangers walking on school grounds during the day. I think there needs to be a better solution all around, not just the lighting.

persevering_gal 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, the tunnel leads to the former main entrance prior to the new expansion in 2000. However, when the children are outside, the teachers look for any person that is not a staff member or someone who did not check in with the office. There are also security cameras around the school. After school, there are a couple of staff members who supervise the tunnel.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

This walkway has been neglected for years yes long before Chuck arrived on the job.

It is rarely cleaned just like the one on the railroad bypass.

This type of walkway should be maintained because they provide absolute safe passage. The city knows our children use this so why not take care of it?

If the city does not like the plan they should come together with a plan that is affordable. Stop saying NO.

Stop spending all of our tax dollars on new development across town and take care of existing responsibilities.

USD 497 lets school buildings go to hell

City Hall allows streets in older Lawrence neighborhoods to go to hell

When was a "demolition by neglect" policy adopted by city government?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

LPD bike Patrol should frequent the walkway.

cowboy 3 years, 6 months ago

This could be the bridge to nowhere before long. If the city or this group of students is concerned about Pinckney why not find a way to raise money to eliminate the staff cuts that are enacted for next year in this school and others.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Whether or not school is in session or open this is safe passage across the board and across a very wide street.

This needs to be maintained no matter what so friends can visit each other safely.

Shutting down existing school buildings to build new ones is simply reckless economics = not a good bang for the tax buck.

Keep the walkway clean. This represents a showing of brain cells when this tunnel was constructed. No ice or snow in winter... whoaaaaaaaa.

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

What is really needed is real drainage, good lighting, a few coats of industrial epoxy painting, and a close-by water outlet so it can be hosed down for cleaning every few weeks. If it has to be repainted on a periodic basis, so be it. But all of that should not cost anywhere near $600,000.

A fancy LED light job isn't going to stop the kids with the paint cans. Or create drainage that I suspect is poor to nonexistent.

City management and the school superintendent need to have a phone call to determine responsibilities and get it on somebody's regular maintenance list. This is not rocket science.

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

What is really needed is real drainage, good lighting, a few coats of industrial epoxy painting, and a close-by water outlet so it can be hosed down for cleaning every few weeks. If it has to be repainted on a periodic basis, so be it. But all of that should not cost anywhere near $600,000.

A fancy LED light job isn't going to stop the kids with the paint cans. Or create drainage that I suspect is poor to nonexistent.

City management and the school superintendent need to have a phone call to determine responsibilities and get it on somebody's regular maintenance list. This is not rocket science.

alm77 3 years, 6 months ago

The drainage is actually pretty good and the tunnel itself is in great shape.

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

Good to hear. Put in a fire hydrant, and give someone a used fire department hose.

Paint it up. Have the muralists in town work with the kids to paint up a nice design that the kids will be proud of. There are lots of things that can be done to spruce things up and give pride to the neighbors and neighborhood. Then actually have the school/city spend a few hundred bucks or so whenever needed to keep it in shape and repair vandalism.

If that is not possible, just keep the walls a solid color, and address graffiti issues promptly.

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

For $600K, you could put in security cameras with speakers and hire someone full time for a decade or two to do nothing but sit and watch the security camera to catch the vandals.

GardenMomma 3 years, 6 months ago

$7.25 x 24 hr x 365 days x 10 years = $635,100

gccs14r 3 years, 6 months ago

If there isn't power nearby already, the expensive part of the project will be bringing power to the tunnel. After that, a couple of industrial light fixtures should be all that's needed for illumination. Then after that send a crew by once a month to hose it out to keep it clean. There is no reason to spend $600k on something fancy that will be easily damaged.

EJ Mulligan 3 years, 6 months ago

Put the $600k toward NOT consolidating schools.

Clark Coan 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure these problems have been solved in other locales for much less. Research?

mr_right_wing 3 years, 6 months ago

"The current plan calls for the tunnel to emit a blue glow during the day — and then when a pedestrian passes through, an orange shadow would appear on the wall. At night, the color scheme would be flip-flopped."

Yeah...great idea, what an attraction for stoners with mp3s full of Floyd and the Dead.

Sounds pretty 'tirppy'.

persevering_gal 3 years, 6 months ago

This tunnel idea sounds like a fun idea for something on Mass St. (but not at this time due to the economy), but certainly not a tunnel that is primarily used 9 months a year for people who simply want to get from one side of the street to the other. For those who use the tunnel on a regular basis, what are they going to do? Just sit there and run back and forth to make the tunnel change colors?

dogsandcats 3 years, 6 months ago

How about just some basic lights instead of the fancy light show with changing colors?

pea 3 years, 6 months ago

This proposal is rather insulting. Boo this man. Boooooo.

pizzapete 3 years, 6 months ago

I was thinking some solar lights might be more appropriate. Anything costing over $5,000 seems a little extreme.
For $600,000 I'll volunteer to sit out there at night with a flashlight and safely walk people through the tunnel for the next 3 years. Give me a call.

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

Wouldn't $600k pay for a crossing guard? for 12 hours a day? for multiple years? with health benefits? Someone needs to go back to the drawing board.

BigPrune 3 years, 6 months ago

What about a bathroom at the end of the tunnel? The neighbors can pay for it themselves.

pizzapete 3 years, 6 months ago

I had my entire house re-wired a few years back. I had bids ranging from $2,500 to nearly $25,000. I ended up paying around $6.000 to re-wire my entire house. Long story short, I'd bet someone would be willing to do this project for a lot less than the current estimate. It's not like we're building a library or something.

commuter 3 years, 6 months ago

Is it just me or what but don't people who work for colleges & schools have no clue that money doesn't grow on trees? Man they sure find ways to spend other people's money on things they they think will be cool.

If he likes it so much, why doesn't he pay for it or raise the funds himself to pay for it? Oh wait, that requires him to do something.

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