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.