Lawrence City Commission votes against Kasold Drive lane reduction

photo by: Nick Krug

Vehicles pass through the intersection of Harvard Road, left to right, and Kasold Drive, pictured Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.

When a portion of Kasold Drive is reconstructed next year, the roadway will maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction. That design goes against the recommendation from city staff to reduce the number of lanes for safety.

Both designs include multi-use paths and bike lanes, and the majority of commissioners indicated that the traditional, five-lane option best meets the needs of the community.

“It’s the only continuous road, north-south, in the entire city,” said Vice Mayor Leslie Soden. “That’s something where we need to keep our options open.”

Commissioners voted 3-2 for the five-lane design, with Commissioners Stuart Boley and Lisa Larsen voting for a “complete street” design that would have reduced the number of lanes. Boley said that the increased safety that would come with the lane reduction and roundabout in the complete street plan was the reason he was in favor of the design, which city staff said would reduce speeding.

“We have an obligation to design them for the way we want our drivers to drive them,” Boley said.

City staff members recommended that section be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction, down from the current configuration of two lanes in each direction. The complete street option, also known as the “road diet,” is designed to be safer than the current configuration because it doesn’t allow for passing and therefore deters speeding, which a traffic study found to be commonplace on the roadway.

“If you have someone doing the speed limit– 30 miles per hour — everyone has to do 30 miles per hour,” said Chuck Soules, director of public works.

Commissioners expressed concern at making changes to what they considered a major thoroughfare. Kasold is one of the three north-south roadways through Lawrence, and the lane reduction would have only affected an approximately one-mile stretch of the roadway that runs from Ninth Street to 14th Street.

Like Soden, Mayor Mike Amyx thought the design was the best for all users of the roadway.

“I think we did a pretty good job of adding a path and everything that goes along with it and I think that we made pretty good decision,” Amyx said.

In other business, commissioners:

? Authorized city staff to proceed with design plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Wakarusa Drive and Harvard Road and to reconstruct Wakarusa Drive between Inverness and Harvard Road.

? Authorized staff to advertise for comprehensive parking system strategic planning services. Planning services would provide policy direction to staff regarding project objectives and guiding principles. The consultant will provide a strategic operations and development plan that will be used to guide the long-term management of the parking system, including operations, infrastructure investments and related policies.