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Archive for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City agrees to apply for roundabout funding

April 22, 2014

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If the state has grant money to offer, Lawrence city commissioners may have an interest in adding roundabouts to some major intersections in the city.

Commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday unanimously agreed to submit applications for state and federal funding for safety projects that could construct roundabouts at Wakarusa Drive and Harvard Road, 19th Street and Naismith Drive, and Kasold Drive and Harvard Road.

Commissioners agreed to move ahead with the grant applications after hearing from several residents who expressed concerns about roundabouts at major intersections.

"You are asking for problems at 19th and Naismith," Lawrence resident Robert Lewis said. "You have lots of parents and visitors going through that intersection who have little or no experience with roundabouts. You have lots of delivery trucks, lots of large buses."

But commissioners stressed they only were applying for the grant money; not committing the city to building the roundabouts. Mayor Mike Amyx, who has voted against roundabout projects in the past, said he wanted to submit the grant applications and then analyze whether there are options other than roundabouts that can improve safety at the intersections.

David Cronin, the city's engineer, said such an analysis can be done. But he said the state officials who award the grants may make the grant funds contingent upon roundabouts being a part of the projects. But Cronin said if commissioners received the grant and decided that it did not want a roundabout, the city could simply decline to accept the grant.

Commissioners expect to receive word on the city's grant applications in July or August. If approved, construction likely would begin in 2016 or 2017.

In other news, commissioners unanimously granted a 60-day exemption for a pilot project that seeks to use hitchhiking as a method for creating a reliable ride-sharing program.

The start-up group Lawrence OnBoard sought the exemption from a city law that technically makes it illegal to stand alongside a city street for the purpose of soliciting a ride. The 60-day exemption will give the group time this summer to test its system, which involves registered users standing alongside city streets with a white board to solicit rides from Lawrence motorists.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months ago

"But commissioners stressed they only were applying for the grant money; not committing the city to building the roundabouts"...........Yeah RIGHT1!!. These addled commissioners are hide bound to create more of these politically incendiary and dangerous traffic obstructions at every intersection in the city. Are you proud, you folks who thought think that your vote in city elections doesn't count?? See what we get when we forget to vote??

Scott Batson 8 months ago

 Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world.  Visit http://tinyurl.com/iihsRAB for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts.  Modern roundabouts, and the pedestrian refuge islands approaching them, are two of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA,  http://tinyurl.com/7qvsaem

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://tinyurl.com/6v44a3x). 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 properly designed modern roundabouts 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 3,000 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

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