Archive for Tuesday, October 23, 2012

City commissioners split on proposed roundabout at Ninth and New Hampshire

October 23, 2012


Whether round is sound for downtown Lawrence is still up in the air.

City commissioners on Tuesday split on the idea of whether a roundabout should be installed in the intersection of Ninth and New Hampshire streets as part of a project that will add a hotel and an apartment building to the area.

“I think we should get the best possible intersection we can get out of this development,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever. “Does that mean a roundabout? I don’t know.”

What is known is that there are two commissioners who are adamantly opposed to a roundabout at the intersection.

“Have you ever tried to cross the street at the 19th and Barker roundabout?” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell asked the developers proposing the roundabout. “I have, and it is like playing Frogger. It is extremely dangerous.”

City Commissioner Mike Amyx also said the roundabout idea held no appeal to him.

“I will not vote for a roundabout at that intersection,” Amyx said. “It is just that simple. I will not do it.”

A development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor have proposed the roundabout. The group has won approval for a new multistory hotel for the southeast corner of the intersection and are finalizing plans for a seven-story apartment building on the northeast corner of the intersection. The group also owns a multistory apartment/retail building on the southwest corner of the intersection.

“We believe this will increase traffic mobility and flow, and increase traffic safety and pedestrian safety,” said Micah Kimball, an architect with Treanor Architects, which is designing the new development at the intersection. “We believe in those safety improvements, and we think it will give us a chance to incorporate some art into the intersection.”

Commissioners essentially deferred any action on the roundabout discussion for at least two weeks after Dever and Mayor Bob Schumm both said they wanted staff to at least study the roundabout issue in more detail. Commissioners were split, though, because Commissioner Hugh Carter was absent from the meeting.

Schumm urged commissioners to not take action on the request until the full commission could hear the whole issue. He said he wanted to hear more about potential safety enhancements a roundabout could add for motorists and pedestrians. But he also said the roundabout could be appropriate to mark the significant new development at the intersection.

“I am kind of in favor of this,” Schumm said. “This intersection is going to be fairly handsome. It will give it a little bit of new flavor and new flair.”

City commissioners were told the intersection would be about the same size as the roundabout at 19th and Barker. But commissioners also were told more detailed design work would have to be done to prove that delivery trucks, fire engines and other large vehicles could navigate the roundabout.

Commissioners also took other actions related to development at Ninth and New Hampshire. They included:

• An agreement that 18 angled parking spaces can be built along New Hampshire in front of the proposed building at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The Historic Resources Commission had approved eight parallel parking spaces as part of the plan.

• Approved documents related to the tax increment financing district and a transportation development district for the hotel project. Commissioners previously had approved in principle the package of incentives for the hotel, but Tuesday night they started the process of approving the actual agreements.


geekin_topekan 5 years, 7 months ago

Great for cars because they dont have to stop.

Bad for pedestrian because cars dont have to stop.

Think of the Children! Installing a roundabout would be Bin Laden's work.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 7 months ago

Drivers don't have to stop their cars at red lights and stop signs, either. But if you're going to drive through a roundabout without smashing something, you do have to at least slow down.

Scott Batson 5 years, 7 months ago

US schools with modern roundabouts nearby:

Ladera Ranch Middle/Elementary School, Ladera Ranch, CA Pine Lake Elementary, Issaquah, WA Sunset Elementary, Bellevue, WA Cotton Elementary, San Antonio, TX Skyview Elementary, Clearwater, FL Sunflower Elementary, Lawrence, KS Fruitville Elementary, Venice, FL Watch at 3:45 into this video posted at First Ward Elementary, Charlotte, NC Cherokee Elementary, Cincinnati, OH Truscott Elementary, Loveland, CO Randleman Middle School, Randleman, NC Eastview Elementary, Fenning and Meadow Oak, Monticello, MN

Steve Jacob 5 years, 7 months ago

I do like the roundabout on 19th and Barker, but it is rough on pedestrians.

Scott Batson 5 years, 7 months ago

That's not the fault of the intersection control as much as driver attitude and enforcement of current laws.

Ira Rott 5 years, 7 months ago

It truly is a dreadful idea for an area with so much foot traffic.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"Why does the roundabout at barker need a stupid almost 8 foot wide walk around it?"

So large vehicles with large turning radiuses (such as firetrucks) can navigate through it.

Cromwell lives in the 1600 block of RI St.

Scott Batson 5 years, 7 months ago

Around the outside, modern roundabouts have shared use paths so cyclist not comfortable with mixing with motorists can travel with pedestrians. Modern roundabouts do not have sidewalks around the circular center island. That would be a truck apron for extra long vehicles to drive on to start or finish a turn.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

The biggest problem with the crosswalks at 19th and Barker is that they are too close to the roundabout. A vehicle exiting the roundabout must stop for a pedestrian while still in the roundabout or just barely out of it. Move the crosswalks further away, and put in traffic islands, and the safety for pedestrians is much greater, and likely greater than what would be at a four-way stop at this intersection.

Scott Batson 5 years, 7 months ago

I looked at a google map. Do they have signs and markings like they should, or are the crossings still unmarked and unsigned? If you put crossings any farther back, pedestrians won't go to them to cross, particularly on low volume intersections or at less busy times of day. some of the sizing constraints are related to the available right of way and how much the local authorities want to get into it with land owners.

Sharon Nottingham 5 years, 7 months ago

I am saying NO to the roundabout. Absolutely NOT a good idea.

Thenewjanbrady 5 years, 7 months ago

I travel this intersection daily, please don't ruin it with a roundabout. Will it improve traffic flow? It's possible, but does that really make a difference if you still have to stop at the next 3 out of 4 stop lights until you get past Kentucky. Has anyone ever got stuck at the 19th and Barker roundabout behind a driver that is too nervous to pull through and just has to sit and wait for 10 cars to go by before you can finally get moving? Or the one at Harvard and Monterey way, where everyone speeds up to make sure they can get into the roundabout first? I feel like they are a good idea in theory, but in reality Lawrence isn't known for having the greatest drivers who make the safest and smartest decisions at intersections. I also agree that they give pedestrians anxiety when trying to cross, especially when there is landscaping in the center and you cannot see who is walking on the other side.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 7 months ago

"Lawrence isn't known for having the greatest drivers who make the safest and smartest decisions at intersections."

That's very true. 532 Accidents were reported to the Lawrence Kansas Police Department during the last two months. That's an average of 8.87 accidents per day within the city limits.

One of the big advantages of a roundabout is that determining fault is not at all difficult. If your car is smashed on the left, it was your fault, and no more investigation is necessary. The arguments can become endless as to who ran a 4 way stop, or who had the red light,,,

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

I hesitate entering 19th and Barker for one simple reason. No stop signs means no need to stop. I'll state, under oath, that very few that travel east-west at that intersection even pause to consider the north-south traffic. Entering that intersection from the north can be quite dangerous.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"Entering that intersection from the north can be quite dangerous."

For it to be dangerous, there has to be a source of danger. That source would be a vehicle already in the intersection immediately to your left. If that's the case, then you yield to that vehicle as required by law. If there is no such vehicle, there is no source of danger, so you proceed into the intersection. What's so difficult to understand about that?

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

There just isn't much oxygen where your head is located, is there?

It's kind of a given that if there is no traffic there is no danger. I don't know about you, but I was clearly discussing the actuality of there being traffic and the fact that despite being clearly visible to traffic coming from the east on 19th street, few, if any, drivers ever yield at all.

If you can't grasp that simple reality, do us all a favor and go play in traffic. On I-70. On a Sunflower Showdown game day. Yes, I firmly expect this post to be deleted because someone will be offended. No, I don't overly care.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

So, you're in the roundabout, and someone fails to yield as they should? And every car following them does the same? I've been through that intersection hundreds of times, and I've never seen that happen.

Charles McPheeters 5 years, 7 months ago

The RA's in Lawrence are too small for many vehicles. The need to be two lanes wide as least. And putting high bushes etc. in the center lowers visibility so you really can not see when another auto or person may be in the RA. Busy intersections should have a pedestrian crossing with a signal, especially in a school district.

I am not against properly constructed RA"s. The ones in Lawrence are just to slow traffic. A large speed bump would be cheaper and do the same.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 7 months ago

Sorry oletimer, the death and injury statistics are not on your side at all. Deaths and serious injuries are almost unknown in roundabouts, and the very high number of people that have been killed in Lawrence alone in broadside accidents is enough to make you faint.

Scott Batson 5 years, 7 months ago

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works. The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 7 months ago

To have a roundabout big enough to handle the gigantor delivery trucks that service businesses downtown, it seems they would have to significantly cut into the development areas on the northeast and southeast corners...I'll bet that ain't gonna happen.

headdoctor 5 years, 7 months ago

Roundabouts are suppose to make intersections safer and more efficient. Maybe they do in some places but not here in Lawrence. To many drivers here seem to think a roundabout means they never have to yield or that it is a great idea to abruptly come to a complete stop when there is no reason to. If you are on a side street when traffic is heavy on the main one, good luck getting through it. While it is a valuable positive the main good thing I can see to them is that they cut down on typical intersection injury accidents like head on and T-bones. They are suppose to also cut down on rear end collisions. In Lawrence I would have to see some statistics before I believed that one based on the number of occurrences of dead stops and dramatic decreases in speed.

LA_Ex 5 years, 7 months ago

"Driver's approaching a roundabout are supposed to yield to cars to their right in the roundabout"??? lol I think you're doing it wrong. That, or you're posting from Great Britain.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

When attempting to enter a roundabout, you yield to vehicles already in the roundabout, which will be to your left, not to your right. The vehicles to your right are already moving away from you, not towards you.

headdoctor 5 years, 7 months ago

roflmao. They pay taxes for both sides of the road. You mean they can't drive anywhere or direction on the street they want?

classclown 5 years, 7 months ago

What if they build the roundabout so it doubles as the entrance and exit for the underground parking! How exciting would that be commish? Now how much would you pay?

time2kill 5 years, 7 months ago

Roundabout at 9th & NH a good idea? HELL NO. That's not an opinion. That's a fact.

pizzapete 5 years, 7 months ago

“Have you ever tried to cross the street at the 19th and Barker roundabout?” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell asked the developers proposing the roundabout. “I have, and it is like playing Frogger. It is extremely dangerous".

Yes, I have tried to walk across the street at that roundabout and I totally agree it's like a game of Frogger. No one stops for pedestrians there. Also, it's a nightmare for someone on a bicycle. If you use the bike lanes on 19th street, they end at the roundabout and very few drivers will yield to a bicycle in the roundabout. I like to ride my bicycle downtown for exercise and to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot. I often avoid the traffic on Mass. and use Vermont or New Hampshire as a bicycle friendly way to access downtown businesses. A roundabout will not only make that intersection difficult for pedestrians but also for the many bicycle riders that frequent our downtown. The four way stop we have works just fine as it is, why are we trying to fix something that isn't broken? If the developer is adding more drivers and pedestrian traffic to that area why shouldn't they be responsible to pay for an underground walkway at that intersection on their own dime and leave us taxpayers out of the equation?

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, you could just stop and become a pedestrian at that intersection. Maybe a little slower (and I'm guessing that if your on a bike that faster isn't your highest priority anyway) but much safer. It's very safe for pedestrians (see my comment below).

pizzapete 5 years, 7 months ago

Paul, I have done that and it doesn't work like you say it does, no one yields to pedestrians there. Maybe you should try it for yourself before you say it's better for pedestrians.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

I have. I partly agree with you that cars don't yield to pedestrians as much as they should at that intersection, especially during rush hours. It's state law that they do, and that's actually posted there. I would prefer to see more enforcement and education to make it work better, because it moves traffic so much better than in the past, in both directions.

I know that during rush hours, there is sometimes a short wait to get in form Barker (really no more than it was at the 4-way stop), but that's nothing compared to the traffic that used to regularly get backed up on 19th clear to Haskell.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

" The four way stop we have works just fine as it is, why are we trying to fix something that isn't broken?"

in practice, it doesn't work "just fine." Especially during high-traffic situations, there is much confusion about who has the right-of-way, and many drivers pay little or no attention to pedestrian traffic.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

That sort of human error isn't eliminated by changing to a roundabout.

Why can't people count to 4, and act accordingly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

When the traffic gets backed up, it can be very challenging to keep track of exactly whose turn is next, especially for drivers whose peripheral vision and/or cognitive functions aren't that good. That you really only have to concern yourself with traffic approaching from one direction, rather than four directions, is one characteristic that makes roundabouts so much safer than 4-way stops.

Unfortunately, pedestrians aren't traveling exclusively in a counter-clockwise direction as vehicular traffic does.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of anyone's opinion about that particular intersection, virtually all studies show that roundabouts are much safer for vehicles and pedestrians.

For pedestrians, it is the easiest kind of intersection they could cross. With the middle islands, pedestrians need to only cross one lane of traffic at a time, coming from one direction only. They can then wait on the middle island if necessary to proceed.

I don't care if Cromwell is opposed to this roundabout, but his irresponsible comments display either ignorance, or a willful disregard for the evidence of their safety in general.

And his inability to comfortably cross the street tells you something about the level of problem-solving skills we too often see on the commission.

windjammer 5 years, 7 months ago

I was under the impression that pedestrians had the right of way in a crosswalk. Bicycling into that roundabout is a nightmare and dangerous. But then you paulveer seem to be the know it all on these intersections.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Yea, roundabouts are yet another manifestation of the marxist/socialist agenda. (heavy sarcasm.)

Terry Sexton 5 years, 7 months ago

'City commissioners split on roundabout.'

Yowza! Talk about your critical constituency!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Interesting comment given that this proposal comes from folks who are intent on turning downtown into their cash cow bought at everyone else's expense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

They need to be able to say they said "no" to developers on something, and this one doesn't really matter that much to the developers.

Terry Sexton 5 years, 7 months ago

I figure some of the more conservative posters don't like roundabouts because they don't like anything that makes a person yield to the left.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 7 months ago

Why do all roundabouts have to look like the one at 19th and Barker? It could be a pedestrian refuge like the circle in front of the hospital. At one time, I lived in a large city that had pedestrian refuge down the middle of major thoroughfares. They were 12" high and they worked. With ADA, we wouldn't be able to do that now. I think a roundabout could be designed for pedestrians. While, I was against the development at this intersection, I think that a roundabout would make the area very attractive with the new buildings. Make the roundabout a pedestrian refuge instead of a pedestrian blockade.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Only problem with that "refuge" is that pedestrians have to run a gauntlet of cars and trucks to get there.

But what you describe sounds similar to the Chi Omega fountain at the west entrance to the KU campus.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

A roundabout at this intersection makes no sense considering why roundabouts are implemented. Which is to keep vehicular traffic moving under specific scenarios.

19th and Barker for example a very busy east/west arterial thoroughfare.

9th and New Hampshire is more of a neighborhood street not designed to move tons of vehicles.

The pedestrian/bicycling traffic in this area suggests a roundabout is not a practical application at 9th and New Hampshire. In fact pedestrian crosswalks should be maintained at this intersection. Signage and such. Can we say a sign at each corner indicating bike/human traffic with small solar powered flashing amber lights attached?

First Management is hoping to add evermore numbers of human beings to this intersection. Which further suggests this area should be more concerned with safe cycling/pedestrian movement while encouraging way less large vehicular traffic.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 7 months ago

What about a combination of old and new? Stop signs at a roundabout? Or, something. Lawrence is not as creative as it likes to think it is. If it hasn't been done somewhere else, we have nothing to copy.

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