Study recommends 2 locations for future city bus hub

photo by: Nick Gerik

An empty lot at 1941 Stewart Ave. is one of two locations identified by transportation consultants from TranSystems as a possible site for a future transit hub in Lawrence. This photo looks north toward Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Station No. 5, residence halls at the University of Kansas and the intersection of Stewart Avenue and 19th Street.

A study has identified two potential sites for the city’s future transit hub, both of which will be familiar to those who have been following the discussion.

A location analysis conducted by transportation consultants TranSystems identified the 700 block of Vermont Street and a site at 1941 Stewart Ave. as the two best locations for a future transit hub. The first proposed location is the current transfer location, across the street from the Lawrence Public Library, and the second is one block north of a previously recommended site at the intersection of 21st and Iowa Streets.

Transit Administrator Robert Nugent presented the results of the study to the Public Transit Advisory Committee at its meeting Monday. The study began with more than 20 possible locations, later reduced to five, and Nugent told the committee members that the amount of open space needed for the project limits the possibilities.

“There’s not a lot of locations that can accommodate this kind of facility to begin with, so we’re going to keep coming back to the few locations that are centrally located,” Nugent said. He noted that a central location allows the bus routes to operate more efficiently and reduce travel times, and that both locations have their potential strengths and issues.

The City Commission has the ultimate say in whether to move forward with either of the locations, and Nugent said if the commission decides to do so, more detailed site and traffic reviews would be needed. PTAC voted to accept the study and send it on to the commission for consideration with comments that PTAC members have a “preliminary preference” for the Stewart Avenue site, due to its relatively larger size and subsequent ability to handle additional buses.

PTAC Chair Heather Thies said that though the committee cannot make an official recommendation until additional site and traffic analysis is done, the ability for the Stewart Avenue site to accommodate growth of the transit service was important. The committee agreed to highlight those differences in comments to the commission, and also to clarify that secondary transfer locations could still be located downtown if the transit center were to be located on Stewart Avenue.

1941 Stewart Ave, Lawrence, KS 66046

The study states that the 700 block of Vermont Street would not accommodate an indoor facility or growth of the transit system. The conceptual plan calls for sawtooth bus bays, additional bus canopies along the east side of Vermont Street, and a mid-block pedestrian crossing.

It also states that 1941 Stewart Ave. would allow for a building for operators and transit users, which could include restrooms, a waiting area and a public meeting space. The study notes that the size of the parcel would support growth of the transit system. The conceptual plan calls for buses to enter and exit the site from a new access point off of Iowa Street.

photo by: City of Lawrence

A proposed transit hub is pictured south of the city fire station at 19th Street and Stewart Ave.

The previously proposed location in that area, at 2021 Stewart Ave., was the result of a location study completed in 2014. That location faced opposition from residents of the nearby Schwegler Neighborhood. The new Stewart Avenue location, between 19th and 20th streets, is one block north of the previous one, which was directly adjacent to the neighborhood.

In addition to the more northern location, Nugent said he thinks the Iowa Street entry will alleviate a lot of the potential traffic concerns.

“Our aim is to keep it right-in, right-out on Iowa, so we wouldn’t have to go on any of those local streets,” Nugent said.

The transit center project was planned as part of the 0.05 percent transit sales tax approved in 2008 to fund the transit system, and $4.5 million is available in the transit reserve fund for the project, according to a memo to the commission.

The City Commission will consider the study at its meeting June 19.


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