LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Pair of traffic calming projects — including a blue light at traffic signals — set for city


We’ll see if talk of traffic calming produces a calming feeling for you on a Monday. I’ve got word of two projects in the works at Lawrence City Hall.

• If you drive in the area behind the new Dillons store at 17th and Massachusetts streets, you may want to get a new set of shocks. Seven speed humps are coming to the neighborhood behind the store.

As part of the store’s City Hall approval last year, Dillons officials agreed to provide $40,000 for traffic calming devices in the neighborhood just east of the store. City officials are now set to begin that project.

Plans call for two speed humps on 17th Terrace between Barker and New Hampshire, and two more on 18th Street between Barker and New Hampshire. In addition, three speed humps are planned for New Hampshire Street, with all planned for the general area near 17th Terrace and 18th Street. Click here to see a map.

The city will accept bids for the project on July 16. Work is expected to begin in late July. Project is expected to be completed by the end of August.

• Red light, green light, yellow light. Blue light? I’m hearing talk around City Hall that Lawrence motorists may start seeing some blue lights at a couple of intersections in Lawrence.

No, I don’t think this is a sign that Kmart is now sponsoring traffic control in the city. (Remember the Blue Light specials in the old Kmarts?) Instead, my understanding is that this is part of a pilot project that involves KU’s engineering school.

I’m still waiting to get official details, but here’s what I’ve heard thus far: Crews, perhaps beginning today, will be installing a blue light on the top of traffic signal poles at 23rd and Iowa and 23rd and Louisiana. The blue light is meant to provide police officers another way to monitor whether motorists are a running a red light.

The idea is that the blue light will be able to be seen from a 360 degree radius. Currently, the best way for a police officer to know whether a motorist has run a red light is to be behind the motorist, where the officer can see both the light and the vehicle. The blue light will come on the moment the traffic signal turns red. Since the blue light can be seen from almost anywhere, an officer can be anywhere near an intersection and monitor it for red light runners.

I’m still a little short on details on the project, but when I hear more, I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: My colleague Ian Cummings is now looking into this story for us. He is reporting that the installation of the lights indeed was scheduled for today, but some technical difficulties have postponed it. No word yet on when the installation may occur, but it might be a few days now.


Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 10 months ago

How special. Already we have yellow turn signals that flash, and now blue lights. Shopping in Lawrence is such a treat.

Curtis Lange 4 years, 10 months ago

Personally, I think it is pretty cool that Lawrence seems to be the first city in Kansas for a lot of these traffic technologies. The flashing yellow arrows started in Lawrence, but are now used in certain Overland Park locations too (127th and Antioch being one off the top of my head).

As far as the blue light goes, it doesn't mean anything to you or me so it won't impact us one bit...unless you happen to run a red light.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 10 months ago

It's hard enough to get through New Hampshire behind Dillions when the farmers market is going being Cotton's.

Frank A Janzen 4 years, 10 months ago

What's that??? Once a week for 2 hours??? What's that???

gccs14r 4 years, 10 months ago

Won't matter if the blue light is visible or not. LPD still won't pull anyone over for anything other than speeding, and only the traffic cops do even that.

kernal 4 years, 10 months ago

Then why have I seen a LPD officer pull someone over for running a red light?

Or, did you mean it seems there's never a cop around when someone runs a red light?

gccs14r 4 years, 10 months ago

I've seen a cop watch someone run a red light and do nothing.

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

I've seen more officers running lights and speeding than pulling over motorists. I wish they'd start nailing drivers that run red lights. In this town, it's best to sit for a few seconds once the light turns green, just to be safe.

msezdsit 4 years, 10 months ago

This is a waste of money. All the cops have to do is say you ran a red light whether you did or not. The deck is stacked from that point on. They got the guns and the court and the judge, why do they need a blue light. I can see it now.

Officer. I pulled you over because you ran a red light. Innocent driver, " no officer the light wasn't blue." Here is your ticket and your court date and your fine is 220 dollars. case closed

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

I have never been pulled over for running a red light. Maybe that's because I never push it through the end of the yellow light. There are a lot of drivers that figure that they are fine as long as they enter the intersection while the light is still yellow... or even if the light just went to red.

You are not going to be paying attention to the blue light, you're still just watching for the yellow/red signal.

Bruce Liddel 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually, KSA Article 15, 8-1508,Traffic-control signal legend, is unconstitutionally vague on that subject. It actually says "(b) Steady yellow indication. (1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection." According to the National Motorists Association, most states allow you to legally enter the intersection on a yellow, since not allowing such would be tantamount to not having a yellow, and would cause many many collisions. Imagine if every driver who ever saw a yellow light while still in motion would slam on their anti-lock brakes? Utter chaos. The Lawrence city government would love it, right up until everyone either moved out of town or lost their licenses.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

So if the blue light is not on, does that mean we can go through the intersection?

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

No, because you would be driving through a red light.

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

Sure, but if the cop doesn't see the blue light, how will he know the other light is red?

Also, does anyone know why the police have blue lights and red lights on top of their cars?

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

As far as any driver is concerned, the blue light means nothing. The blue light isn't going to be along with the green/yellow/red lights. It will be in a different place and look completely different. Drivers still have to follow the signals. If a driver is too dumb to know how stop lights work, then they shouldn't be driving.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

You got the point! And, why is it always called a stop light, and never a go light?

Rae Hudspeth 4 years, 10 months ago

I think you mean "nowhere else out in the country".

bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

Blue Light= "I am the Central Scrutinizer!"

Khublai_Juan 4 years, 10 months ago

The white zone is for loading and unloading only. If you have to unload please go to the white zone...

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

"Crews,,, will be installing a blue light on the top of traffic signal poles at 23rd and Iowa and 23rd and Louisiana."

Apparently we have some commenters who are not close readers. The blue lights will be mounted on top of the signal poles, not on top of the traffic signals. At those two intersections, the poles and the lights are quite some distance apart.

Cassie Powell 4 years, 10 months ago

the one at 23rd & Louisiana was operating last night. I got gas at BP and wondered what it was. its up top near where the cameras are usually mounted, no where near the red/yellow/green.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

What will this mean to people who are colorblind? Personally I think the money that will be spent on the traffic calming devices and the blue lights could be better spent elsewhere. I would like to see a place on here where people can list things that they would like to see the city spend their money on and then have the city commissioners go by that.

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

Again, the blue light means nothing to the driver and the driver should not be paying attention to the blue light. If a colorblind person is able to read traffic lights now, they will have no problem because NOTHING IS CHANGING!!!

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago


Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

You are right, that remark was off the top of my head. I apologize for causing you increased frustration. Damn the blue light, full speed ahead! :-)

ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

Not too long ago, stopped at a stop light, the driver in front of me started inching forward in anticipation of the light changing to green. Except, he was actually pulling into the middle of the intersection while the light was red. By the time the light actually turned to green, his truck was almost underneath the traffic light, having traveled almost completely across the intersection and he was staring straight up at the light, waiting for it to change.

akt2 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't think it will make much difference. Even more so since it's malfunctioning before it is even installed. It's just an experiment. The vantage points aren't that great for 23rd and Iowa either.

gccs14r 4 years, 10 months ago

Seems like they'll need at least two blue lights, one for each major set of reds. Otherwise, something is always red at a controlled intersection, so the blue light would always be illuminated. Maybe that's the malfunction--the light never turns off.

ontheright 4 years, 10 months ago

Someone is just sitting around trying to dig up dumb ways to spend tax payers money!

pizzapete 4 years, 10 months ago

If that's the case they're doing a great job and probably deserve a raise.

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

We don't have laws in KS allowing red light cameras. All the cameras you see now are just to monitor traffic. The only way our legislature would approve red light cameras would be if it's tacked onto some anti-abortion bill or a bill lower taxes even more for the Koch brothers.

Cities that have these cameras have usually seen accidents increase at the intersections that have them. More people slam on brakes when the light turns yellow, afraid of getting a ticket and cause wrecks.

Many times, they also issue tickets if your tires are just over the white line and lots of petty, little things. They are just used to generate revenue, not make the intersections safer. They've removed them from LA , Albuquerque and Houston. Also, it doesn't matter who's driving, the owner of the vehicle gets the ticket. If I let a family member or my neighbor borrow my car and they do anything that the cameras catch, I get the ticket and the points go against my insurance. Not fair to punish the owner instead of the driver. Many of these systems also monitor speed, so you could start getting tickets for going a few miles over the speed limit. An officer wouldn't waste the time to pull you over for that, but they'll gladly send you a ticket in the mail since the camera system is automated.

Lastly, the cities don't own and monitor these systems. Private companies do and they have ticket quotas. That's when they start issuing tickets for every little minor infraction, just to generate enough money for the company to make it worth while to keep the cameras rolling.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm loving it. Then Lawrence could become know worldwide as "The City of Lights." Tourists dollars would be, well, astronomical.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 10 months ago

YESSS!!! I want an orange one for all of the beer cans, booze bottles, and McDonald's trash left in my parkway or thrown from the windows of passing cars into my yard! (Have considered ghillie suit and paintball gun, but don't have that kind of time...)

Richard Payton 4 years, 10 months ago

Your probably from Lawrence if you remember Kmart's blue light specials.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 10 months ago

Experiment? It's not much of an experiment, since the blue lights have already been installed and are in use in so many locations elsewhere. Google blue light traffic, and you'll get these, which are only the beginning of the hits for that search:

What are the blue lights under the traffic signals?

New blue traffic lights?

Traffic Signal Confirmation Light
Ever wonder what the White or Blue light located above a traffic signal is used for?

Blue Lights on Orlando Traffic Lights - Mystery Solved

Little blue light under traffic signals???

Blue lights over traffic signals

I Wonder: What are those blue lights on stoplights?

Floridians: What's that blue light on traffic signals?

Lane ranger: Blue lights help catch red-light runners

MnDOT adds new lights to traffic signals to improve safety

I could go on, that's just the beginning of page after page of websites that discuss the use of blue lights to enforce compliance with red light traffic signals.

Generally speaking, an experiment is something that is done to test something that is new or novel. The idea and technology behind the blue lights that are being installed in Lawrence are not new, and they are certainly not novel. The blue lights are already in use in many cities across the United States.

So if they confuse you, maybe you could think of them as practice for the drivers in Lawrence for when they have to drive in other cities. We're pretty far behind the times here, we don't even have any blue lights installed yet.

Curtis Lange 4 years, 10 months ago

I've been to other cities where this blue light is used. Simple, effective and unobtrusive...other than the occasional passenger asking, "Wonder what that blue light is for?" Like others have said, this means absolutely NOTHING for drivers. It is only to help benefit police to catch red light runners...which I am 100% for.

trailertrash 4 years, 10 months ago

If the officer is not in the lane from which he can see the light turn from yellow to red, then is he in the crossing lane where the light turns green when the other turns red? Does the blue light come on at the same time both of these events take place. Do the officers not understand this? As just a driver with no formal training of the law, even I understand this.

Currahee 4 years, 10 months ago

Why not just have traffic cams to take photos of the plates of those who run red lights? Last night on 6th I saw a crazy idiot run a red...

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't really see why we need all of these alternative traffic signals, with flashing yellow and red lights, that many people don't know how to use - not entirely their fault, since the city doesn't provide directions.

Plain old vanilla stop signs and regular light signals should work fine, and most drivers should know what the correct procedure is (even if they don't follow it).

Bruce Liddel 4 years, 10 months ago

The whole concept of traffic calming is hopelessly flawed. It's basis is the assumption that drivers are enraged because their governments are not tyrannical enough, and only ever-increasing governmental control will calm the enraged motorists. This absurdity is an outgrowth of the 70+ year-old mantra of "speed kills", even though that notion is also patently false. Traffic calming increases road rage, decreases respect for absurd governmental controls, and increases the costs of road and vehicle maintenance.

A comprehensive study commissioned by the ITE and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on traffic calming projects in the United States concludes:

"Traffic calming in the U.S. is largely restricted to low volume residential streets. Collisions occur infrequently on such streets to begin with, and any systematic change in collision rates tends to get lost in the random variation from year to year. This limits our confidence in drawing inferences about safety impacts of traffic calming."

For more information: http://www.motorists.org/traffic-calming/problems

Curtis Lange 4 years, 10 months ago

You're correct. There are still a vast number of idiots on the road.

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