Archive for Saturday, April 21, 2012

City eyes improvements to Ninth Street intersections

April 21, 2012


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 The current traffic signal is outdated and only provides one signal head in each direction.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.


oneflewover 5 years, 11 months ago

$135,000 for another signal head? The light is red yellow or green regardless of how many "signal heads". People, are you that stupid now days?

Tyson Travis 5 years, 11 months ago

Agree, kind of a no-brainer since it involves a one-way street. Only possibility I can think of is a left-turn arrow for EBound 9th traffic turning North on Ky, then that would require a sensor in the street to activate it, without a separate turn lane it would just slow the flow. I live out of town, can't remember if there's a left-turn lane there. Can't remember the last time I got hung up there, leave it alone and save the $ on the signal head and digging.

GardenMomma 5 years, 11 months ago

That's an awful intersection. There is no left turn lane and you can get held up there for several cycles before you get a break to go through the westbound traffic if you are turning north.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

I once saw a woman make the crazy mistake of assuming that the left lane going west on 9th was the left turn lane to go north on Kentucky. And she didn't understand why I was giving her funny looks from the real left lane... Some people just don't observe that double yellow line.

Chimi_McSchweezy 5 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately, the instruction manual for signal design (The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, MUTCD) requires that new signal installations to have at least 2 signal faces for the primary movement. If the city makes other improvements in the area, but does not upgrade this signal they are opening the door for lawsuits if something bad happens at this intersection. The requirements in the MUTCD is backed by Federal Law.

irvan moore 5 years, 11 months ago

wouldn't it be cheaper (and easier) to put up a no left turn sign

ForThePeople 5 years, 11 months ago

That would be the logical course of action.

John Hamm 5 years, 11 months ago

And Lawrence leaders aren't particularly noted for "logical thought."

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

And force traffic onto other streets or confuse people so they turn left on Tennessee? No. Bad idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

"Uddin said city leaders aren’t confident of how well the roundabouts would be accepted by the public."

There is certainly a segment of the driving population who just don't get how to use roundabouts (and they probably don't get lots of other nuances about driving through any other sort of intersection.) Regardless, traffic flow through 19th and Barker is still infinitely better than it was when there was a four-way stop.

Crystal Patterson 5 years, 11 months ago

Unless you are on Barker during rush hour, it is amazing and highly agitating how many people don't even slow down at all at the yield sign, it will be just car after car after car and those on Barker have to sit there until there is a break in traffic or someone actually realizes that the yield sign also applies to them.

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 11 months ago

If they are going to spend that kind of money at 9th & Kentucky, they should extend the bike lanes on 9th through that block, if they are not their already.

I'm not a bicycle kinda person, but I believe in bike lanes (and keeping bikes off of sidewalks)

Norm Jennings 5 years, 11 months ago

A 4-way stop at the intersection of two-lane roads (from either or all directions) is truly ridiculous. Waki and Harvard as well as Kasold and Harvard are 2 of the worst. Everybody stopping, burning gas, spewing emissions, and creating the very traffic congestion good urban planning works to avoid...brilliant!

Roundabouts are a huge improvement. The comment about new areas is valid though. When too small, roundabouts are less-than-ideal, and the ridiculous traffic-calming, mini-roundabout may be one of the worst ideas yet.

Roundabouts work, if people only pay attention to the yield signs, it is quite simple. Now if we could only also borrow the "priority-road" concept from Europe as well. Works like a charm, wastes less fuel, creates less congestion, etc., etc

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

Some roundabouts in this town make sense: Chi Omega, 13th and Barker, etc. Others like 17th and Indiana just off campus are so small that a lot of cars can't make the turn or decide to ignore it. In a residential neighborhood, it should just be a four-way stop.

Adrienne Sanders 5 years, 11 months ago

What really needs to happen is people need to stop speeding down the hill, going too fast and not paying attention to the car in front of them. I live near this area and there are wrecks all the time. I see one at least once a month, up the hill a little bit before you get to Michigan, where people are trying to turn left into the various apartment complexes there. I hear screeching of brakes way more often than that. Put some cops on Avalon Rd. or thereabouts and have them stop people who come speeding down the hill, I bet that would cut down on the number of accidents.

Mark Kostner 5 years, 11 months ago

I almost got my classic Mustang in a crash at 9th and Emory 40 years ago. I can't believe the street is roughly the same as it was then. As many more people that live in Lawrence now, I can't believe 9th isn't a 5 lane street east of Iowa.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 11 months ago

Wider streets in a residential neighborhood will increase speeds and decrease safety. This needs to be carefully thought through. 9th is a challenge through there but it's not an arterial street like is found at 23rd and Iowa or 6th and Wakarusa.

BruceWayne 5 years, 11 months ago

Trust in our elected officials! Core-less and Cram-well in 2012!

Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 11 months ago

I completely agree with dulcinea47 and jq6pack. First, there needs to be slower speeds coming down the hill. There are various ways to do that, including traffic bumps and patrol cars. I agree that with patrol cars giving out tickets, this would change the traffic flow, much for the better.

I also agree with jq6pack. The priority road concept from Europe is a great idea. Why not use it in Lawrence?

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm not sure speed bumps would help going down a hill. I don't believe people intentionally speed. Gravity makes it so that in order to maintain 30 mph, you have to ride the brake down the hill. They should put in a warning light for if Emory is red. Not sure what to do about Michigan. Another traffic signal maybe? It's still a somewhat major intersection. I don't think the neighborhood would like the idea of a wider street. Some of the apartments west of Michigan go right up to the sidewalk practically, and that's where it goes down to two lanes.

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