Archive for Friday, November 11, 2011

Mayor wants to get rolling on discussion about depot’s use as transit hub

Mayor Aron Cromwell hopes to get feedback from fellow commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting about using the depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets as a transfer station for the city’s transit system.

Mayor Aron Cromwell hopes to get feedback from fellow commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting about using the depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets as a transfer station for the city’s transit system.

November 11, 2011


Now arriving at the station: A new plan for the city to take ownership of the Santa Fe Depot in east Lawrence.

Mayor Aron Cromwell hopes to get feedback from fellow commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting about using the depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets as a transfer station for the city’s transit system. The building already is used as a depot for the two Amtrak trains that run through the city daily.

“This is a building whose primary function is waiting,” Cromwell said. “This would allow us to use it that way at least twice.”

The city has been seeking a location for a transit hub for several years. Currently the main transfer point in the city is near Ninth and New Hampshire. The city provides small glass booths that allow people to avoid some of the weather.

“We definitely need something more than what we have right now,” said Bob Nugent, the city’s public transit administrator. “It would be nice to have some more amenities.”

But whether the 1950s-era Santa Fe Depot building will be the right solution will take more study — and discussion — Cromwell said.

“We’re going to want to hear what the neighborhood will say about this,” Cromwell said. “There will be an impact there. Some of it may be positive. Some of it may be negative.”

Nugent said his office has done a cursory review of the location, and he said he hasn’t found any glaring reasons why the location won’t work. But he said a more-detailed space analysis will need to be done, especially concerning how the site could accommodate up to seven buses at once. He said there are several times each day that the downtown transfer point must accommodate that many buses.

Nugent said it seems unlikely that the depot parking lot could handle all the buses at once, meaning an on-street solution might have to be explored.

“Those are the type of issues that we’ll have to examine,” Nugent said.

There also would be some rerouting of buses required, but Nugent said there still would be plenty of stops in downtown Lawrence itself, which would eliminate much of the need for people to walk from downtown to the depot.

Cromwell said he wants to fully examine the idea of using the depot as a transit hub before deciding whether the city should take over ownership of the building. Burlington Northern Santa Fe has offered to transfer ownership of the building to the city at no cost, but commissioners have been reluctant to take the building because it needs significant repairs.

Amtrak officials have offered to pay about $140,000 to complete required ADA upgrades at the building. But a city-hired architect has estimated that there are still about $400,000 worth of high-priority repairs — such as a new roof and heating and cooling units — that need to be made at the building. The same report also identified about $1 million worth of broader improvements that should be considered for the site in the future.

The city has applied for several grants to improve the station, but the fact the city doesn’t own the building has made it difficult to win grant funding. If the depot becomes a transit facility, it would be eligible to apply for Federal Transit Authority grants.

“I think this probably is going to be one of the best ways to get this building into the city inventory,” Cromwell said.

A citizen’s group — Depot Redux — has been lobbying hard for the city to take over the depot because it’s a good example of 1950s architecture. The group also previously has advocated that the depot play a more central role in the city’s transportation needs. That idea hasn’t gotten much traction at City Hall, but that may be changing.

Cromwell said that if the city pursues the idea of transit hub, for example, he could envision the depot also serving as a station for Greyhound and other transportation options.

“I know there are things we can do to make it easier for people to get around town,” Cromwell said.

Although city commissioners are expected to discuss the depot at their weekly meeting, Cromwell said it will take several more weeks before the city would be in a position to make a decision on moving forward with the depot project. Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


bearded_gnome 5 years ago

Nugent said his office has done a cursory review of the location, and he said he hasn’t found any glaring reasons why the location won’t work. But he said a more detailed space analysis will need to be done, especially concerning how the site could accommodate up to seven buses at once. He said there are several times each day that the downtown transfer point must accommodate that many buses. Nugent said it seems unlikely that the depot parking lot could handle all the buses at once, meaning an on-street solution might have to be explored.

---does not include mention of the poor condition of: streets 7th/New York, New Jersey, Connecticut; or fix/replace sidwalks betwixt there and downtown or to the south.

I've said on here that the ADA necessary improvements will certainl cost more than the quoted amount. but if this becomes grayhound/rail/bus then maybe justifies that.

has the figgering by the mayor included the fact that that inside space is gonna need a humanoid employee staffing apparently 24-hours/seven days a week? who pays said humanoid?

irvan moore 5 years ago

better hurry up commissioners, wouldn't want to get on dougs bad side having all those buses and the people who ride them cluttering up his corner.

William McCauley 5 years ago

ya think.... NOOOOOO that couldn't be the case..... LOL

BruceWayne 5 years ago

most wasteful commission in the history of our once fine town.

William McCauley 5 years ago

Didn't keep them from coming to the downtown bus station (free state) for the 30 yrs my grandpa ran that station, what's two more blocks and an easier turn then into the old station..... I doubt their going to change from the 6th street gas station to the depot, so your most likely right.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Buttttttttt one day Kansas will catch on which is to say making the train station a hub will accommodate commuter train passengers. This is also something key to stopping further erosion of the good ozone layer.

Taxi service and Bus service is part of the package supporting commuter train service.

gccs14r 5 years ago

This is one time that I don't think Doug is pulling strings behind the scenes. It makes sense, and has for a long time, to make the station our transportation hub.

The easy fix is to make New Jersey one-way from 8th all the way around to New York. Then we don't have to accommodate parked buses and two-way traffic.

pace 5 years ago

I think the depot would make an excellent transportation hub. If possible some of the land between the depot and Kennedy Glass could be a for pay parking lot. The Johnson county and Kansas city shuttles buses could pick up some traffic there. It would increase traffic at that corner but would improve access to public transportation to the neighbor hood. Having 9th. and Mass as a central point has been way too hectic. Downtown would see some prime parking places open up.

gccs14r 5 years ago

There could be an advantage to having the K-10 connector go over to the station, instead of only to 19th & Haskell, in that it'd be easier for Connector riders to get to other places in the City on the T (or people in the City to get to the Connector using the T), without having to transfer multiple times. The disadvantage is that 7th & NJ doesn't have a big enough parking lot to accommodate all the park-n-ride folks who currently use the Connector. Maybe if there were a better interface between the T and the Connector, fewer people would drive to meet the Connector, but that would have to be studied.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

If the K-10 connector picks up passengers at the depot, going by the parking lot at the parking at 19th and Haskell would be on its way back out of town, anyway, so those wishing to drive to meet the bus still could.

jhawk0097 5 years ago

Part of the long-term plan for the depot is to develop a parking lot b/ the station and Kennedy Glass.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Why not two hubs? The depot could be the "downtown" hub, with another one at KU or further west or south.

headdoctor 5 years ago

The bus system needs something besides downtown. The City still doesn't get that not everyone riding the bus wants to waste the extra travel time to take a scenic tour of downtown only to switch buses to go back the way they wanted to go originally. So much for them correcting and streamlining the routes. They spent over a year messing with it and came up with nothing practical. Somewhere I thought the original idea was to use smaller buses for a more direct route saving costs on bigger buses, fuel costs and just plain wear and tear driving places they didn't need to be.

lawrencian 5 years ago

Headdoctor, the way that I get my input heard about buses is to attend the public meetings, and occasionally I have an idea that I send to Bob Nugent by email ( Shockingly, they do actually consider written feedback, and I've seen several changes made in response. You should try it!

headdoctor 5 years ago

Actually, I have spoke to Bob Nugent before. I think he has some good ideas and he gives one the idea that he does listen. I think the biggest problem is that he is getting short stopped by some people above him who are perfectly willing to sacrifice increasing the number of riders just to make downtown the target of all efforts.

Alceste 5 years ago

"The building already is used as a depot for the two Amtrak trains that run through the city daily....."

Run those times by me again, please, when trains " through the city daily....." and how many time a day does this act occur???????

The USA needs a rapid transist train system which runs coast to coast.....East to West and back.....North to South and back.......but the USA people are simply too stupid to understand this reality.

Beginning in Lawrence, KS. with the purchase of a "station" is mighty fine.....PROVIDED.......NO INCREASE IN TAXES. It'll never happen......the no increase in taxes......

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

"The USA needs a rapid transist train system which runs coast to coast.....East to West and back.....North to South and back.......but the USA people are simply too stupid to understand this reality."

I enjoy the smell of faux-progressive arrogance in the evening.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I detest the smell of mindless mocking instead of reasoned argument.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

So you suffer from quite a bit of self-hatred gauging by the content of your posts? Sad.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I see you are still prefer (baseless) personal attack to reasoned argument.


Alceste 5 years ago

Any fool who owns a Glock can't understand the reality of the times: Rail IS the future....the longer WE wait.....the more costly IT becomes.....

hurlingchunks 5 years ago

Trains currently run past that station every 15min, the commuter train stops for passages around midnight to one o’clock there is sometimes another train dropping passangers aound noon. This is just what I remember standing on the porch watching from across the street.

cowboy 5 years ago

Now I'm no transit expert , but I did stay at a holiday inn one night , Should the transfer hub be centrally located ? Just a minor detail

gccs14r 5 years ago

7th & NJ is pretty centrally located without eating up prime downtown retail space. People want an enclosed transfer point, and here is a ready-built building that would work. Maybe some shops (coffee shop, restaurant, newsstand) would move in nearby to take care of waiting passengers.

Jonathan Fox 5 years ago

Downtown Lawrence is not centrally located. And the old 50s train depot is hardly "ready-built" being that it needs huge amounts of money just to meet code requirements. Let alone the lack of easy access for our huge buses. Plus, shops nearby? really? Have you seen the surrounding area?

gccs14r 5 years ago

The depot is only about 850' from the edge of downtown. As for the surrounding area, on one side is a body shop and on the other is Kennedy Glass. Either one or both could be encouraged to move, if need be. As I mentioned earlier, make New Jersey a one-way street northbound all the way around to New York and the buses can park in front of the station without impeding through traffic.

waitjustaminute 5 years ago

Hold on their pardners, I thought that part of the $18mil boon doggle of a new lie-bary was to be a transit hub. Wasn't it sold to the voters that way? Was I sleeping? And now, now, there's another chance to make Lawrence even a better first class city with this? Give me a break, give me a break, give me a break of that flim-flam-bar!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"Wasn't it sold to the voters that way?"


"Was I sleeping?"

There was some discussion of how the bus system would interact with the library/parking garage, but the project was never sold as a "hub" for the bus system. So I'd say, yes, you were sleeping.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

I remember that too. I even sent an email suggesting that the T should be combined with trains, taxis, etc., but not at the library.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

I think this is a fantastic idea and should be explored and we're not talking about a whole lot of money here compared to the library and proposed rec. center. The 9th and Mass transfer point holds up traffic and is too small to accomadate.

Jonathan Fox 5 years ago

Not talking about a whole lot of money? With the money required for this project we could build a brand new hub (getting a lot more grant money I'm sure) that is actually centrally located in lawrence.

texburgh 5 years ago

There are many good ideas about how to make this work. It's an excellent idea - creating a central hub for transportation. There would be no need to have a person employed there 24/7. There needs to be someone for Amtrak when the Southwest Chief goes through (and there is now). The T does not need a person on staff there - they don't at 9th and Mass now, why would it be different here? The K-10 connecter idea posted earlier is another excellent idea. And finally, it would be great to get Greyhound to move from the gas station on 6th to this hub. And as a bonus, we could preserve a nice example of period architecture.

Mike Myers 5 years ago

My understanding is that the bus service already has three employees that they would just relocate to the Station.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years ago

The problem is the bus system. Why in the world would anyone want to keep throwing good money after bad. All these problems would go away if they got rid of the money pit called the Lawrence transit.

Folks, vote your pocketbooks not your heart. If any of you had to fund this money pit from your own pockets, you would get rid of it faster than can be imagined.

We don't need public transportation, we need to make people go to work and earn their way through life.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"We don't need public transportation,"

Is that the "royal we?"

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

"We don't need public transportation, we need to make people go to work and earn their way through life."

I did work and earn my way through life. Now, I need public transportation. You should not assume that everyone can drive.

chootspa 5 years ago

Some people use public transportation to go to work and earn their way though life.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years ago

All the freeloaders are out in force today.

lawrencian 5 years ago

I work hard for my money, and pay my fare. In fact, quite a few of the people I talk to on the bus on a daily basis are GOING TO WORK. So yes, we're going to work, and earning our way.

But I use my bike and a bus instead of paying for a car, because the new routes and schedules work for me, the new buses on route 11 have bike racks (like the rest of the city buses, instead of KU buses on the route). When I need a car, I borrow from one of the various family members who own two, but I'm not wasting gas unless it is absolutely necessary.

jhawk0097 5 years ago

If you ain't drivin' a vehicle, you ain't 'merican.

average 5 years ago

It's not even slightly centrally located. When literally less-than-1% of the city's population lives in the quadrant north-and-east of said location, it's not 'central'. Our downtown is not, and hasn't been since 1960. Let alone northeast of downtown. Besides the Santa Fe location being too small for all the buses to arrive at one location at the same time (the 'pulse' system used by every transit system in the nation serving a community under a half-million except in Lawrence America).

West campus, somewhere between Lied and the park-and-ride, integrated with the KU system. Only thing that makes sense.

Jonathan Fox 5 years ago

I agree, the Park-and-Ride location on West Campus would be a great place with plenty of space and access to accomodate the buses and integrate the KU system. With the money required to update the depot station and surrounding area you could easily build a new station.

gccs14r 5 years ago

So you think you're going to relocate the BNSF tracks and the Amtrak station to somewhere on West Campus? Which neighborhoods are you going to bulldoze to pull that off? Or were you thinking of using a TBM to make a path to West Campus under the city?

This isn't just about the T, it's also about intermodal transportation. That means that everything we intend to include in intermodal needs to come together at one point, one way or the other. The rails are the most difficult and expensive part to move.

average 5 years ago

Even with a bus system designed around Lawrence as it actually is, there would still be bus service to the Amtrak station. It would be at one end of one route, in as much as it on the very corner of the town (as it actually is). Why are we designing a system to provide miserably inefficient intracity travel for most parts of the city, for the benefit of a rail service that optimistically will have 2-3 trains a day in my lifetime (and I'd love that), and has zero trains at hours the bus service runs in the present day?

snitty 5 years ago

Cromwell's idea has merit and is worth discussing. The station would benefit from more use, though there are also natural limits as to how big or busy it should get. It shouldn't be a central bus station, but it should be a bus stop. Maybe a pedicab and gypsy hack station. Restoration and re-purposing of underused and decaying city assets is imaginative governance, as is providing infrastructure for public conveyance.

Boston_Corbett 5 years ago

Sounds like some interesting ideas to me.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

What the heck, it's only money. Lawrence is rolling in dough. Spend away and then put in gold toilets. (from a source)

Alceste 5 years ago

The U.S.A. shall be compelled to enter the world of public rail transport as is existent, pretty much, everywhere else in the world. Given the ever increasing costs of air travel, high speed rail is a "no-brainer".

Lawrence is presently relegated to 2 trains at un-Godly hours. It's long past time that the U.S.A. abondon the automobile and enter the real world: exists on the East Coast where a LOT of people don't own a car because they know they have trains and mass transit to get them from point A to point B. Heck....even I remember taking the Chicago Northwestern from Kenilworth to the janitor job in Chicago proper (and that's when smoking was allowed on and in each and every car....). I think there was a lame "documentary" entitled "What's the Matter With Kansas".???? All these dumb hicks wanting to keep their pimped out Toyota Camrys.....give me a clean and civilized mass transit system any day. (I suspect the lot who throw dung at the "T" and any other manner of public transport or just dumb hillbilly like jackasses who've never been out of the state?? ) shrug

Once again, Kansans.....and Lawrencians....are incredibly ignorant and short sighted as to what the future holds: The dimwits cling onto a concept of stupidity that's pretty much off the "The Loyal Oppostion" (moderate) has pointed out.....they just don't have any " in the game....". shrug shrug

gccs14r 5 years ago

Real passenger rail is tiered, with local, regional, interstate, and high-speed service. Of course Lawrence wouldn't be served by a high-speed train, although one or two might pass through on the way to somewhere else. You'd hop a regional train to KC, then have the option of multiple train types to get to wherever you wanted to go, depending on your time constraints, destination, and budget.

If you're trying to get to Great Bend from Winchester, you'd take the local train down through Oskaloosa and Billtown to Lawrence, then take the regional train over to KC or directly to Salina. If you opted to go to KC first you could take a faster interstate train that stopped in Salina or Hays and maybe get there before a direct regional train, depending on how the schedules worked out. Once out there, then you'd hop a local to Great Bend. An alternative might be to take a high-speed train from KC to Wichita, then take a local from Wichita to Great Bend.

We used to have passenger service all over this country. We could do it again. We'll most likely have to, eventually.

gccs14r 5 years ago

Chances are that Grandma's vehicle can't haul lumber, anyway, so you're either going to have to have it delivered or rent a truck. That doesn't mean that you need to drive a truck all the way to Grandma's, just in case she needs you to haul something. And being three miles from the station means that she doesn't live in town, anyway, so she would have already figured out how to get to town to go shopping.

We need to get away from the idea of taking personal vehicles on multi-hundred or multi-thousand mile trips as a matter of course. It's expensive, wasteful, and dangerous. There may be times when it's the most practical thing to do, but for the most part we do it because we have no choice.

Alceste 5 years ago


The truth about your own place stings, eh? Kansas IS a hillbilly dominated, ignorance laden state. shrug

What gccs14r writes below is a simple fact, whether you want to own it or not.

Here's some more observations about this silly little state:

"But what sort of people squatted in (insert the name of any town in Kansas here) anyway? They all sold each other wheat and bacon and corn and beef and farm machinery and squeaky shoes they all talked in the same Goddamned flat, nasal voice about the same Goddamned trivial things day-in-day-out year-after-year---eating, sleeping and growing more rustic and pompous and proverbial (as if the secrets of life with a capital L were to be found in the saws and mouthed over a corner rail or a gutter: You kin ketch more flies with molasses than you kin with vinegar. Where there's that much smoke, there must be some far. First ketch your rabbit. Time is money.) They began their kin, hating each other because of the no-privacy of the place, stunned because of the sulness of the virtues they felt obliged to wear, beckoned at and tempted by the rich vices that each kept from enjoying except in deep, painful secret..." -Joseph Stanley Pennell, 1944, in THE HISTORY OF ROME HANKS AND KINDRED MATTERS

Pennell is a Kansan who wasn't afraid to call it like it is, eh?

Rail and busses be coming back to the good ole USA (that includes Kansas). Watch.

Alceste 5 years ago

Pardon me: You're fixated on an academic's view and understanding as to how words work and function in every day life amongst common, everyday people. Your inability to understand that Kansas is a hillbilly, red neck state is laugable.

As a 5th generation Kansas Hillbilly.....I well know the "breeding stock" of this lost speck of dust.....and.....yes.....gasp I've the opportunity AND benefit of living "abroad"....not to mention actual civilization here in the USA. I've been lucky that I've had the luxury to see what's what elsewhere. Trust me on this ain't happening in Kansas.....and in particular, Lawrence. Oh, once upon a time Lawrence COULD have something to be "proud" about.....civilization wise.....but that was long ago. We're talking about today....."modern times".....real life.......and everything WEST of 59 is a different COUNTRY (so Granddaddy used to pontificate about). There isn't any (culture/civilization) in Kansas. Look as long and as hard you so're Don Quioxte......those ARE windmills out there.....they're not dragons.

Kansas has been lost for a long, long, long time.....and partly due to the folly of utes such as yourself. What a hoot!

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Al, have you been taking punctuation lessons from tuschie?

Lawrence Morgan 5 years ago

It seems to me that this could be a very good idea, especially if walkways/paths were built to down town Lawrence, for when the weather is good, as well as along the river.

As far as air conditioning goes, the careful use of fans could take care of hot summer days. There is no need for air conditioning.

I think the remodeling could cost far less than is anticipated here.

I also am very excited about the Mexican restaurant. I'm sure that was in jest, but it really is a good idea. How about a walk from downtown to the train station, with restaurants and shops along the way? This could become an exciting part of Lawrence, linked up with the former Borders location. Why not have a grocery store there, among other things?

And as for the person to be located there 24 hours a day, I think that is a good idea. Why not include flyers and books on the history of Lawrence and Kansas to create a real center for people. This might include pictures from the past which are constantly changed each week.

I think there should be a number of bus spots, linked up with small branch libraries right nearby, as well as small parks. There was an article in the San Francisco Examiner recently about "parklets", where people have made small parklets where they can rest, read, and congregate.

Is anyone on the city commission listening?

Gaius_Baltar 5 years ago

I'm all for mass transit, and I don't mind subsidizing it, either. BUT...the location is a head scratcher. I think it'd work if they maybe developed another "hub" out on 31st or something.

As to the idea of "the USA needs high speed trains", I've been saying that for years. However, the costs are currently prohibitive, and unfortunately the US cast its lot with the automobile during the post-WW2 boom. Do people realize that many of the old west Lawrence and east Lawrence streets have tracks under them? I know 8th does between Tennessee and Kentucky, and a good hunk of New Jersey as well.

Anyway, it's going to take a major cultural or social shift in perception to provide the needed impetus to move to high speed rail. I think someday we'll have it again, but not in my lifetime.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Lawrence,Kansas is rolling in the dough with plenty of money invested and in reserve funding.

Lawrence,Kansas is broke only when a project or idea does not meet the fancy of local elected officials and some in city hall. But let developer's show up to build more of what is not in need and the dollars flood the city commission room in spite of the fact that these decisions expand the bills for taxpayers aka back door/hidden tax increases.

Look at it this way. The $200-$300 million cost for the obsolete trafficway plan would easily get commuter train service rolling. This would serve the populations of many taxpaying communities within the proximity of Topeka,Lawrence and KCMO/JOCO metro. The number of long term employment opportunities would put a bunch of tax dollars back in the hands of taxpayers and local business.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Look at how California's high speed rail project is getting along. Sounds like a disaster in the making. Hmmmmm. (from a source)

gccs14r 5 years ago

Sounds like a good reason to not use private contractors.

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