Lawrence officials hear concerns over Kasold Drive reconstruction; project faces slight delay
About 40 people who live or regularly travel along Kasold Drive gathered Wednesday at City Hall, many of them to voice concerns about two proposals to reconstruct the street.
The city has hosted several public meetings since May about upcoming changes to the section of Kasold Drive from Sixth Street to Bob Billings Parkway — a section of road where traffic has remained steady over the past 13 years.
Residents of the area talked about issues regarding increased traffic flow; sidewalks being too near homes; the effect on their being able to exit their driveways; and whether a roundabout at Harvard Road and Kasold Drive would be safe for school children crossing the intersection.
“Nightmare,” “scared” and “petrified” were a few words used by residents when considering the street changes.
“Kasold was not built for anything less than delivery truck traffic for 30-plus years,” said Jan Pool, who lives in the area. “Me, personally, I have a problem with people being in my front yard so close. If you were to bring in a shared path so close to my front door and have a large barking dog in my front window, I would be petrified.”
Dave Parscale, who lives off Kasold near Harvard Road, said he was concerned reconfiguring the street to one northbound lane and one southbound lane would further impair his ability to back out of his driveway.
Parscale said he asked the city whether he could construct a circle drive but was turned down because of the upcoming road project.
He said he attended Wednesday’s meeting to better understand what he would be facing.
“I chose to live on Kasold understanding I exit onto a thoroughfare,” Parscale said. “I have a third-grader having to cross the road. I have a high school student that has to get onto the road. There are questions that we all have to answer on our own for our own self: ‘How is it going to affect our day-to-day?’ It’s not that I want to restrict the flow, I’d just like to understand the idea.”
City engineer David Cronin presented two options for the reconstruction Wednesday but said both are preliminary and can be altered.
One, a “typical street” option, calls for four 11-foot traffic lanes and a center turn lane. It includes the installation of a traffic signal at the Harvard-Kasold intersection.
The other was dubbed the “Complete Street” option. That term references street planning that considers all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.
The city’s Complete Street option for Kasold would allow for a buffer — 3 feet wide — between a 12-foot traffic lane and an 8-foot bike lane. It also includes a roundabout at the intersection of Harvard and Kasold.
Both options proposed by the city include bike lanes, a shared-use path and a center median.
The project, paid for with funds from the city’s capital improvement plan, has a budget of $5.3 million.
It’s estimated that the Complete Street option would cost $4.37 million. The Kansas Department of Transportation would contribute $400,000 for that plan, contingent on construction of the roundabout. The other option would cost about $5.13 million, Cronin said. He said the project is estimated to be completed “sometime in 2016 or 2017.”
Before starting the design process, the City Commission must provide input.
City commissioners were scheduled to make a decision on the reconstruction just prior to former Mayor Jeremy Farmer’s resignation in August. The consideration was deferred and now appears on a list of future agenda items without a date for when it will be addressed.
It was originally planned for the project to be designed this fall or winter, with construction starting in 2016. The project team hopes to gain more input from additional public meetings during the design period.
If the commission considers the plan in the next couple of months, Cronin said, construction could still begin by the end of next year.
“The commission has had a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of things that I think they thought would be most appropriate to wait on until there’s a full commission,” Cronin said. “October or November would be my hope.”
He said the delay in consideration by the City Commission has allotted more time for public input, such as that gleaned at Wednesday’s meeting.
More information on the proposed plans for Kasold Drive reconstruction, including detailed outlines and renderings, can be found at the City of Lawrence’s special project website, KasoldDrive.com
The meeting, which was arranged by the Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition — a group that promotes pedestrian-friendly infrastructure — also was attended by some in favor of the changes. At times, however, the discussion became heated.
About 20 minutes into the meeting, a resident of the area said there was a “lack of transparency with the city” about where the Complete Street idea came from. After being cut off after several minutes and asked to wait until the end of the meeting to give statements, the man left without giving his name.
Near the end of the meeting, which lasted an hour over its estimated end time of 8 p.m., Gary Webber — a member of the Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition — addressed the man’s comments.
“This gentleman who said it’s not transparent, that’s offensive to me because you guys have been right out there in the front with this information,” Webber said. “You’ve been very forthright with it.”
The reconstruction has faced opposition at other points throughout the past four months.
Through letters to the Journal-World and an informal survey conducted by City Commissioner Matthew Herbert, as well as at other public meetings, residents of the area and others have voiced their concerns, some with the Complete Street option and others to aspects of both proposals.
Cronin said he already had heard many of the issues brought up Wednesday.
“We’re to the point where we have a lot of information, a lot of comments,” he said. “The majority of public comment has been for the typical reconstruction. Whether or not they’ve looked at all the details, all the pros and cons, I don’t know. I think, generally, when you say you want more of something or less of something, people want more.”