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Trains, trolleys, trails among the projects city commissioners considering for grant funding


It will be trains versus trolleys at Lawrence City Hall tonight. Well, sort of.

City commissioners at their meeting tonight are being asked to select three transportation projects to submit as grant applications for state funding.

Topping the list is a familiar project — renovation of the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. City Hall staff members are proposing the city apply for a $1.5 million transportation enhancement grant to make necessary improvements to the station at Seventh and New Jersey streets.

But staff members also have brought up the idea of a different use for those funds — a brick street restoration in the 600 and 700 blocks of Indiana Street.

This project has a unique twist to it: Trolley tracks. In 1909 the Lawrence Light & Railway Company opened a new trolley route called Route 3, which also was dubbed “Indiana Run” because it went from Eighth and Massachusetts to Indiana Street to Fourth Street and then back.

Those trolley tracks still exist under the current asphalt pavement of the street, and they are starting to create some surface problems. The city is proposing to apply for a $660,000 transportation enhancement grant that would allow the street to be restored to its original brick street format, complete with stone curbs. And, at the moment, the city is proposing to put in new railroad ties and reinstall the original trolley rails down the middle of the street.

There’s no plan for a trolley service in the works, but the grant category is for transportation projects with a historic element. The trolley tracks fit the bill.

The state has limited funding for the grant program, and so city staff members are recommending the Santa Fe Depot project be submitted as the city’s No. 1 priority in the category. The city, however, has sought grants before to restore the 1950s-era depot, but been unsuccessful. That is in part because the city doesn’t yet own the building.

City commissioners have been reluctant to execute a low cost purchase of the station from Burlington Northern Santa Fe because it doesn’t want to be obligated to make the significant repairs needed. They rather would have a grant to help with that, but grant agencies have been reluctant to award money for a building the city does not yet own. So, we’ll likely go through the chicken-or-the-egg routine again tonight at City Hall. And we’ll discuss trains and trolleys.

Commissioners also are being asked to choose transportation projects for two other grant categories. Those choices are:

• $57,500 to restore the old stone monuments that mark the entry into the Breezedale neighborhood at 23rd and Massachusetts streets. The project is in the scenic and environmental category. It is the only project the city is recommending for that category.

• $170,000 to extend the concrete Burroughs Creek Rail Trail from East 23rd Street to East 29th Street. Currently there is an ag lime, gravel path that runs from 23rd Street to 29th Street. The proposal would replace that path with a 10-foot-wide concrete path, matching the new Burroughs Creek Trail, which starts at 23rd Street and runs north to 11th Street. City staff members are recommending this project be the city’s No. 1 priority in the bicycle and pedestrian category.

• $580,000 to build a new path from the proposed Rock Chalk Park north of Sixth and the South Lawrence Trafficway intersection to Queens Road. Eventually, the city would like to have a path that runs all the way from the Rock Chalk site to Kasold Drive. The project is in the pedestrian and bicycle category.

• $240,000 to add bike lanes to the portion of Bob Billings Parkway that runs between Wakarusa Drive and about 45 feet west of Foxfire Road. The existing median would be narrowed to make room for the bike lanes. City officials said now would be the time to add bike lanes to the road because the city plans to resurface the road in 2013. The project is in the pedestrian and bicycle category.

All of the projects would require the city to provide local funding equal to 20 percent of the project’s cost. So, for example, the city would need to come up with about $300,000 in local funding, if it were awarded the Santa Fe Depot grant.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. tonight at City Hall.


xorobabel 5 years, 1 month ago

I've always thought a downtown tram would be great, though I don't think restoring one block on Indiana street would do much good.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 1 month ago

The Mississippi/9th/Mass route would be awesome to bring back too

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Mississippi and 8th street is how it ran. Probably a good idea to keep it on 8th otherwise the whiners racing up and down 9th street who are allowed by our police to threaten lives daily will complain about the trolley.

justforfun 5 years, 1 month ago

Restore the trolly tracks between 6th and 8th on Indians st?? Are you F Kidding me!! I say throw that 20% ($132,000) the city will have to match into the much needed Library! What A joke!!!

SOONERthanlater 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree. Restoring trolly tracks for a trolly that doesnt exist is stupid and a complete waste of funds.

james bush 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank goodness for the federal bureacrats and patronage. Where else would all that grant writing skill be used coming from KU's worthless social studies curricula. (Bah, humbug.......the season gets to me!)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

There’s no plan for a trolley service in the works.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I call BS......

$57,500 to restore the old stone monuments that mark the entry into the Breezedale neighborhood at 23rd and Massachusetts streets.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lets see ... a bottle of bleach $1.79, a wire brush $4.00 and a bucket of rinse water. Yeppers... $57,500.00! WOOT! What a payday for someones brother-in-law. You could replace them for that money and they call it a restoration. Jez.... no wonder we are broke.

If they want to fix the streets...sounds like a reason for the neighborhood to get together, have a feast, get to know each other and work on the streets.

The ADA has done in the Depot. If it was worth having BNSF would not be so eager to rid themselves of it. One saturday you could install new HVAC and clean it up. The next saturday you could re roof it and build a ramp for the handicapped. Restrooms are a problem to retrofit but can be done for way less than 1.5 million or whatever the bid is for. How about this. Make all the welfare and unemployment peeps show up there every day until the project is finished...Heck...we are paying them anyway.

asixbury 5 years, 1 month ago

You don't pay the unemployment insurance, the businesses that let them go do....but I kind of agree on your other points.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

Bike lanes? Show me bike lanes in Lawrence that make any sense.

kuhusker 5 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence needs a subway. The red line goes from North Lawrence, under the river, through downtown, down Mass, then over to Haskell. The Blue Line starts in East Lawrence, heads down Nith, then tunnels under Mount Oread, serving the university, before exiting at 15th and Iow becoming an "El" down 15th all the way to west Lawrence. Then we add a third line that goes down to South Iowa!

Go big or go home!


patkindle 5 years, 1 month ago

I believe that businesses should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as they see fit.

dwendel 5 years, 1 month ago

And Can't predictably posts his typical "I know everything and I hate everything unless it benefits me directly, in which case I hate everyone against it" rant of the hour. It must be very difficult to have the answers to all the problems, and yet no ambition to do anything beyond anonymous squeeling. Get your brush, bleach and bucket, round up your friends and go get scrubbing!! There's a whole community of doers out there making real contributions to a real community. You could be one of them...

I don't pretend to know know enough about the details of this proposal or its financing to have a strong opinion about it's costs vs. benefits. However, I've often thought that a downtown trolley would be a significant draw for out-of-towners on day/shopping trips to Lawrence. I'd love to see a carosel in one of the downtown partks for the same reason.

In the late 1980's, a group of doers (not whiners) in Tucson, AZ restored and put into service a vitage trolley rolling a historic line between the UofA campus, through the adjacent business district and downtown into the arts district - maybe 2 miles at the most. Not sure if it's still operating, but it was quite successful at linking these important income-generating districts, and a centerpiece to the economic revitalization of the area.

Things appear to be happening in downtown and East Lawrence -- the artists have moved in, are cleaning up and making them fun and funky. Developers are developing. Yuppies are moving into lofts. Traditional patterns of urban renewal are emerging. All very exciting I think for those areas in the next decade or two (albiet change is hard and not always nice to all).

Hooligan_016 5 years, 1 month ago

Indeed, just think of a line going from the hill on Mississippi, down to 9th, and then extend all the way to Pennsylvania (thereby linking campus, to Mass st, and the old, but newish arts area) Win!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

Dwindle...go ahead and smoke your weed and enjoy watching dove feathers float from the sky. The reason I know these things is I have been involved in funding and contracting at both the federal and the state levels. Open your eyes and tell me you could not have purchased the equipment needed to put in that 2 miles of cables by Eudora, and install it for $2 million. More over unless there are upwards of 1.000 large stones, the job is not worth 50K, unless you are related somehow to the person letting the bid. Keep falling for the old bait and switch scam... oh and remember to hide your roaches when someone knocks on your door.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 1 month ago

Dwindle, you just got pwn3d with the old "You must be on drugs" burn!


dwendel 5 years, 1 month ago

Doh! I never even saw that one coming it was so quick and witty. Oh the shame, it burns!

dwendel 5 years, 1 month ago

I actually agree that government agencies often overspend on projects and procurement. Like I said, get out there and do it for less. You said the stone thingie just needs bleach and a brush and a few of hours of scrubbing. If that's true and if I had your considerable expertise, I'd put in a low bid and go get that job myself. Just think, you could low bid at $47,000, save the good hardworking taxpayers of Lawrence $10K, and for $5.79 (your numbers), plus a bucket and an afternoon's work you'd have it good as new. Woot!

patkindle 5 years, 1 month ago

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

Phoghorn 5 years, 1 month ago

Many of us "right wingers" are concerned about this. I am a small government guy, and I don't want any government body recklessly wasting the money it takes from me. I always want my tax money to be managed well - and I hold the military to the same standard.

Regardless, national defense is one thing that the Federal government is actually supposed to take care of.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Instead of restoring trolley tracks why not purchase two electric bus vehicles. Then again Lawrence has one or two trolley looking vehicles as we speak.

I say expand the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail from East 23rd Street to East 29th Street to the south and North from 11th to the River Levy and/or through the park.

The trail projects are the most cost effective. For the cost of 1 mile of 4 lane highway we can get 250 miles of trails.

"$580,000 to build a new path from the proposed Rock Chalk Park north of Sixth and the South Lawrence Trafficway intersection to Queens Road. Eventually, the city would like to have a path that runs all the way from the Rock Chalk site to Kasold Drive. The project is in the pedestrian and bicycle category. " THIS FIELD HOUSE PROJECT becomes more expensive with each passing day in addition to adding MORE TAX DOLLARS to parks and rec maintenance budget. Taxpayers will never see a payback on this project = tax dollar money hole.

City Hall and City Commissioners love to spend on west Lawrence as if there is no other part of town. HMMMMMMMM.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Kansas In The Top 10

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Too bad for Jayhawk fans this has nothing to do with Charlie Weis' first season on the gridiron.

Also, it is the wrong Top 10. A more apt description would be that Kansas has the 9th HIGHEST combined (state and local average) sales tax rate in the country. This according to a new study from the Tax Foundation in Washington.

As KPI fiscal analyst Todd Davidson wrote in our most recent paper on tax reform,

A higher sales tax increases the cost of a product, and like any other price increase, prompts customers to purchase that product elsewhere (even across state lines) at a lower price or cut back on other purchases to offset the price increase. Either way, state retailers suffer an economic loss that impacts their employees and customers; lower profits reduce the amount available to compensate employees and/or may result in a price increase in an attempt to offset the lost income.

What does that mean in the Kansas City area where it is very easy for people to travel across state lines to make a purchase? Say you want to be ready for the upcoming football season with a new TV and you live in Wyandotte County. BestBuy.Com has a nice looking 65" Sony flatscreen TV for $2,999.98...even Energy Star rated. A purchase certainly outside of most family budgets, but you would pay an extra $62.10 in state sales tax if you purchased the TV at a Best Buy in KCK instead of going a few short miles into Missouri. Keep in mind, that is before any local sales taxes are applied.

$62 might not sound like much to someone spending $3K on a TV, but the point is obvious. Take this in the aggregate and Kansas is potentially losing a lot of sales tax revenue because the state remains uncompetitive.

In their analysis, the Tax Foundation reminds us...

Avoidance of sales tax is most likely to occur in areas where there is a significant difference between two jurisdictions' sales tax rates. Research indicates that consumers can and do leave high-tax areas to make major purchases in low-tax areas, such as from cities to suburbs. For example, strong evidence exists that Chicago-area consumers make major purchases in surrounding suburbs or online to avoid Chicago's 9.5 percent sales tax rate.

At the statewide level, businesses sometimes locate just outside the borders of high sales tax areas to avoid being subjected to their rates. The state of Delaware actually uses its state border welcome sign to remind motorists that Delaware is the "Home of Tax-Free Shopping." State and local governments should be cautious about raising rates too high relative to their neighbors because doing so will amount to less revenue than expected, or in extreme cases, revenue losses despite the higher tax rate.

Business unfriendly or what? Then add in the "secret sales taxes" as in Baur Farms and the Legends = 9%-10%...

average 5 years, 1 month ago

Bike considerations on Billings are called for, not because traffic is so thick now that it's an issue at all, but it presumably will be when Billings connects to the SLT. That said, a quarter-mil for only 2,000 feet of on-road bike lane? Any cost comparison with a 10' shared-use sidepath for the same length (or even longer)?

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 1 month ago

How nice. The people in the big houses on Indiana, some of which have appraisals pushing half a million, are going to get special brick streets, streets with nice stone curbs that won't pothole anywhere near as badly as the crappy, low bid asphalt they slather on everyone else's streets.

Clark Coan 5 years, 1 month ago

Many cities have trolleys including Oklahoma City and soon KCMO. Why not Lawrence? It could go from KU down Mississippi to 7th, then east to Vermont St. and then down the middle of Vermont to 11th. It would be quite the tourist draw and allow visitors to go to the museums at KU. KU students could ride it to downtown.

Extend the concrete on the Burroughs Creek Trail down to 29th. That is an excellent idea.

chicago95 5 years, 1 month ago

Sigh. More failures of imagination from staff.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

What is the impact of expanding the tax base in Lawrence,Kansas? Think field house.

The one consequence that continues to go unmentioned. Developers and their tax increasing business unfriendly growth plans are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Also, it is the wrong Top 10. A more apt description would be that Kansas has the 9th HIGHEST combined (state and local average) sales tax rate in the country. This according to a new study from the Tax Foundation in Washington.

As KPI fiscal analyst Todd Davidson wrote in our most recent paper on tax reform is a Brownback thinker which leads me to believe his agenda does not have we the people in mind. It has facism in mind.

Of more concern is this Davidson opinion will be applied or has been applied to reducing the state level sales tax. However this will cause taxes to increase in our communities which shoots a big hole in the anti tax increase rhetoric coming from the GOP. Their decisions directly increase taxes make no mistake about it. Supply Side Economics at its' best.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

This is the most amazing thing I've heard coming from our chamber commissioners. The rail exists under many of the streets I believe, it has been exposed at times on 8th street so let's peel back the asphalt and shine those babies up and start looking for trolleys which isn't easy since cities eons more ahead of the game have already bought up much of the available stock.

I don't suppose any of our business people see potential in building coaches? No, certainly not in Lawrence because our business people aren't very capable since the best they can do is buy farm land and build on it and even that isn't something they can do very well as the sportsmegaplex demonstrates.

The article on Bowersock must really amaze people in Lawrence, who knew this town once produced real things at one time.

classclown 5 years, 1 month ago


Upon receipt of an offer of money, city officials promptly search for ways to waste it.

KiferGhost 5 years, 1 month ago

mikekt 11 hours, 7 minutes ago

So they think that a trolley is a good idea. Hum? Most trolleys are called trolleys because they have an actual trolley pole that connects the car to an overhead single wire positive pulsating direct current ( DC ), @360 pulse pe...

Sometimes it is amazing Americans were able to make it to the moon at one time.

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