Archive for Sunday, December 10, 2017

Conceptual plans for city bus hub include mixed-use downtown building

As city leaders discuss potential location for a new transit hub, one possible landing spot could be the city parking lot 5, which sits on the east side of Vermont Street between Ninth and 10th streets. Conceptual plans for this location could include a multistory building with room for retail or residential space.

As city leaders discuss potential location for a new transit hub, one possible landing spot could be the city parking lot 5, which sits on the east side of Vermont Street between Ninth and 10th streets. Conceptual plans for this location could include a multistory building with room for retail or residential space.

December 10, 2017

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Conceptual plans for the city’s bus transfer hub range from a curbside stop to a mixed-use multistory building.

The latter idea, proposed for the city parking lot in the 900 block of Vermont Street, calls for a building that could house parking, transit operations as well as commercial and/or residential space.

The mixed-use building is one of five concepts put forth by TranSystems, transportation consultants the city hired. Public Transit Administrator Bob Nugent said there is a lot of demand on the available land downtown, and the mixed-use concept attempts to balance the need for parking, transit and continued development there.

“How do you do that?” Nugent said. “Maybe the way you do that is to put it all together, and you come up with something that does all that in one.”

The city has set aside $5 million for a bus hub, and discussions about where it should be located have been going on for years. This study is the second to examine the transit system and potential bus hub locations. The five locations being considered include sites downtown, near the University of Kansas campus and in west Lawrence. Conceptual plans for four of the locations include an indoor facility, excepting a location in the 700 block of Vermont Street.

A new idea

Vice Mayor Stuart Boley said he is keeping an open mind about the plans until the consultant study and ongoing resident survey are complete. But Boley said a mixed-use transit center is an interesting idea, and he thinks it’s important to be open to all the possibilities.

“I’ve been saying that we need to do infill development and that would be infill development,” Boley said. “I’m not sure that that would give us the optimal transit system, but I think it’s a new idea and I think it’s an interesting one.”

Like the others, the idea for the 900 block of Vermont Street is only conceptual at this stage. Nugent said the parking could be underground or ground level, and the layout flexible. As far as how such a project would work, Nugent said that would be up to the commission. As an example, he said the city could provide the land and work with a developer on the building, using the money set aside for a transit center for the transit portion of the structure.

Commissioner Matthew Herbert said his role is to listen to the experts and take their advice. Still, he said his tendency is going to be to ask what the purpose of the hub is and whether the plan achieves that purpose. He said the mixed-use concept goes beyond the simplest form the hub could take.

“With a site like that I get a little bit concerned that we’re doing more than just building a transit hub,” Herbert said. “At some point when we start to get a little too cute with the process, the process gets to be a whole lot more expensive. My tendency is going to be to rein us in.”

Maintaining current transfer location

Perhaps the simplest conceptual plan is for the 700 block of Vermont Street. That location has been used as the temporary transfer point for several years. The plans don’t call for an indoor facility, but propose “high-visibility” pedestrian zone markings, a mid-block pedestrian crossing and additional bus shelters along the east side of Vermont Street.

The 700 block of Vermont also calls for “saw-tooth style" bus bays. Nugent said that structure allows buses to pull in at an angle instead of lining up nose to end. He said the bays let buses pull in and out of slots without having to maneuver around each other or wait for buses ahead of them to pull out.

However, the location would maintain travel times and would not be able to accommodate the full fleet operations, according to a preliminary analysis of the site.

Improving the transit system

Nugent said one of the most important factors for a hub location is how it would affect transit operations. With the current structure, he said some users have to backtrack significantly to get to certain destinations, making for trips up to an hour long after transfers. He said some routes take 30 minutes and others only 15.

“The most ideal system design is to have your transfers happening in the center of your city so all your routes are the same distance and length, all your travel times much more consistent,” Nugent said.

Boley said the question is how to have the most efficient and financially feasible service. He said before seeing the results of the study, it’s not possible to say if that would even require an indoor hub.

“To focus on the hub rather than the system is probably misplaced,” Boley said. “The hub would be a tool to get to that optimal system. It’s possible that having a different route plan so that you have two or three different (transfer) places might be the optimal system.”

Even with his thoughts on the potential mixed-use facility, Herbert said he’s not going into the issue “with a particular dog in my corner.” He said his main concern is efficiency.

“A hub is most valuable for its ability to get route times down to 30 minutes maximum all across the city,” Herbert said. “And so my primary question is going to be how are the different sites weighed in terms of their ability to actually improve the efficiency of the transit system.”

Feedback

The city is currently accepting feedback on the five locations and conceptual plans. Nugent said after considering that input, consultants will likely recommend two locations for the City Commission to consider. He said once the finalists are selected, consultants will get into more specifics on each plan.

As part of their analysis, consultants will look at various factors. In addition to travel time, consultants are analyzing the five locations based on the price of the land, ease of construction, proximity to neighborhoods and the ability to accommodate fleet operations.

Residents can fill out an online survey through lawrenceks.org/lawrence-listens about the five proposed transit center locations on the city’s website until Dec. 17.

Transit hub locations

Site A: 700 block of Vermont Street

--current transfer location across the street from Lawrence Public Library

--saw-tooth style transit bays, mid-block pedestrian crossing, additional shelters

--maintains current travel times

--not a centralized location

--cannot accommodate indoor facility

--cannot accommodate full fleet operations

--located outside a residential neighborhood

--cost-effective to acquire property (within the right-of-way of Vermont Street)

--ease of constructability

Site B: City parking lot 5, 900 block of Vermont Street

--mixed-use multistory building including parking, transit center, commercial and/or residential space

--maintains current travel times

--not a centralized location

--can accommodate indoor facility

--may not be able to accommodate the entirety of fleet operations

--located outside a residential neighborhood

--would be cost-effective to acquire property (already owned by the city)

--no ease of constructability

Site C: Southeast corner of Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive

--an off-street transfer location with indoor areas for operators and transit users

--saw-tooth style transit bays and University of Kansas “gateway features”

--property owned by KU

--maintains current travel times

--not a centralized location, but more centralized than downtown

--can accommodate indoor facility

--can accommodate full fleet operations

--located outside a residential neighborhood

--cost-effective to acquire property

--moderate ease of constructability

Site D: 1941 Stewart Ave.

--indoor facility in parcels between 19th and 21st streets on Stewart Avenue

--property owned by the KU Endowment Association

--improves current travel times

--centralized location

--can accommodate an indoor facility

--can accommodate full fleet operations

--located adjacent to a residential neighborhood

--cost-effective to acquire property

--ease of constructability

Site E: Northeast corner of Clinton Parkway and Lawrence Avenue

--potential off-street transfer site with connectivity to West Campus

--extension of Lawrence Avenue

--owned by KU Endowment Association

--maintains current travel times

--not a centralized location

--can accommodate an indoor facility

--can accommodate full fleet operations

--located adjacent to a residential neighborhood

--cost-effective to acquire property

--ease of constructability

Source: City of Lawrence preliminary location analysis

Comments

Tim Foley 1 month, 1 week ago

Oh, good. I was afraid they weren't considering taking away parking. They really don't want those of us who live on the West side to spend our money Downtown, do they.

Deborah Snyder 1 month, 1 week ago

Okay, I'm puzzled about the bullet point on the first (and most effective) scenario. The building on the East Side of Vermont Street (directly across from the LPL)... IS FOR LEASE. The whole building.

So, How Is It That the 7th block of Vermont Street cannot support a an inside facility??!?

With $5 million, doncha think that building could be bought for LESS than the cost of what-the-heck-are-they Proposal No. 2 ??

And by eliminating the unnecessary metered parking in front of the library (since there's a Parking Garage right there) you have full accommodation of buses on that block.

Mark Kostner 1 month ago

This 900 block of Vermont is great spot, centrally located. If you go for the mixed use residential building concept, please consider making this affordable housing. In other words housing for someone who would ride the bus. They could ride the elevator down and hop on the bus, Gus. This would be a good use of the two bond issues voted on last month, transportation and affordable housing. And just between you, me, and the wall, I'd love to see some affordable senior housing built downtown. I'd love to call downtown Lawrence home some day.

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