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Archive for Tuesday, October 23, 2012

City commissioners split on proposed roundabout at Ninth and New Hampshire

October 23, 2012

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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.

Comments

Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 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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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 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.

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 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.

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rockchalker52 1 year, 5 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.

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blue73harley 1 year, 5 months ago

Classic case of NIMBY.

Okay for neighborhoods but keep 'em out of our Downtown Jewel.

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rockchalker52 1 year, 5 months ago

'City commissioners split on roundabout.'

Yowza! Talk about your critical constituency!

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consumer1 1 year, 5 months ago

I want to repeat, these round a bouts were initiated by the "Progressive Party" of Lawrence during the highbooger regime. Now you lamo dems don't like em? How progressive is that??

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paulveer 1 year, 5 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.

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pizzapete 1 year, 5 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?

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time2kill 1 year, 5 months ago

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

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classclown 1 year, 5 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?

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consumer1 1 year, 5 months ago

Dear city commissioner's round about are by design supposed to move traffic along without cause bottlenecking of traffic, 9th and NH is already busy, what will happen with the increased traffic?? Yes! Correct it will back up onto Mass street causeing ??? YOu got it a bottleneck! Pull your heads outta you keister's and wake up...

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consumer1 1 year, 5 months ago

Hey MO, MR Commissioner Aron Cromwell... it was your constituents and predicessor's that built those stupid thing where they didn't belong... This intersecton could actually be the correct place for one!!!! Dem's "Duh which way did he go ollie"?

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headdoctor 1 year, 5 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.

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cheeseburger 1 year, 5 months ago

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

The lone voice of reason on that otherwise woeful commission.

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MarcoPogo 1 year, 5 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.

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oletimer 1 year, 5 months ago

There is no good intersection for a stupid round a bout. They are dangerous and costly. Give them hell Mike!

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cmmcphee 1 year, 5 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.

1

Keith Richards 1 year, 5 months ago

I am all for roundabouts in areas such as the 19th street one to improve traffic. However, I just don't see how it would work in a pedestrian heavy area.

What expertise does the treanor architect have for saying this will increase pedestrian safety? Likely none.

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Thenewjanbrady 1 year, 5 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.

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Sharon Nottingham 1 year, 5 months ago

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

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 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.

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sizeito 1 year, 5 months ago

The goal of Lawrence's Downtown is to be pedestrian friendly; encouraging shopping, eating, parades, festivals, etc. The goal of a roundabout is to keep traffic flowing. The idea of a roundabout in the Downtown area is an oxymoron.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

Why does the roundabout at barker need a stupid almost 8 foot wide walk around it? it is as ugly as ugly comes. There is nothing, nothing about it that will hold the test of time as aesthetic. Where does bro. Cromwell well live anyway? And BTW schumm. The streets belong to the public, not to you or the downtown merchants.

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Ira Rott 1 year, 5 months ago

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

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 5 months ago

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

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geekin_topekan 1 year, 5 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.

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