When it comes to the Ninth and Michigan area, what’s just over the hill isn’t always good news.
The intersection in central Lawrence has had more than 12 accidents in the last three years, with many of the accidents the rear-end variety as eastbound motorists come over the hill and encounter a stopped vehicle waiting to turn left onto Michigan Street.
“Motorists really don’t have a safe way of getting out of the main flow of traffic to make that turn,” said City Engineer Shoeb Uddin.
The Ninth and Michigan intersection is one of two that city engineers hope to win federal and state grant money to improve during the next round of funding. City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are being asked to approve the grant applications.
The Ninth and Michigan project would involve adding a left-turn lane for eastbound motorists turning off Ninth Street onto Michigan. It also would include a turn lane for westbound motorists turning off Ninth onto Emery Road.
The project has an estimated $300,000 price tag, but grant money from the Federal-Aid Safety Program could pay for up $270,000 of the project, city engineers estimate.
Commissioners also are being asked to apply for grant money to improve the intersection of Ninth and Kentucky streets. The city is seeking $135,000 in grant funding to install a new traffic signal at the intersection. The current traffic signal is outdated and only provides one signal head in each direction.
City engineers said safety would be improved if the intersection had a signal head over each lane of traffic.
Regardless of the outcome of the grant application, the Ninth and Kentucky area is slated to undergo some improvements later this year. Construction crews will be in the area of Ninth and Tennessee streets to install a new traffic signal and to widen the pavement to accommodate a left-turn lane. The road widening project will stretch to Ninth and Kentucky, which will allow for a left-turn lane for motorists heading east on Ninth Street who want to turn north onto Kentucky.
Commissioners considered applying for grant funding at two other intersections, but backed away when it was determined roundabouts would be the most likely solution for the intersections.
Crash volumes at both 13th and Connecticut and 19th and Haskell qualified the intersections for possible safety grant funding. But city engineers said the 13th and Connecticut intersection would need a roundabout similar in size to the one at 19th and Barker. The intersection at 19th and Haskell would have required a roundabout similar in size to the one at 25th and O’Connell.
Uddin said city leaders aren’t confident of how well the roundabouts would be accepted by the public.
“I think our general wisdom on roundabouts are that in new developments they work well and we’ll see more of them,” Uddin said. “But in in-fill situations, they’re much more difficult and they don’t always work as well as we would like.”
The Kansas Department of Transportation will select grant winners late this year, but construction likely would not begin until 2014.