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City Hall targets property on Memorial Stadium grounds for transit center

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The phrase “warm up the bus” may become a frequent one at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, and it has nothing to do with the improving — or declining — fortunes of the KU football team.

A new City Hall report lists a site on the grounds of Memorial Stadium as a leading contender to house a multmillion dollar transit center.

The report says a site just northeast of the stadium — where the shot put and discus rings are now — may be the best location to build a nearly $3 million transit center that would serve both the city and KU’s public transit buses.

As currently envisioned, the transit center would hold a specially-designed parking lot to accommodate upwards of 10 buses. It also would include a small building with public restrooms and a break room for bus drivers.

The option would involve relocating a portion of Fambrough Drive so that it no longer is part of an offset intersection where it connects with Mississippi Street. The portion of Illinois Street that runs onto the stadium property also would be relocated.

As for the discus, shot put and javelin areas, they would be relocated to the Rock Chalk Park complex in northwest Lawrence, where a state-of-the-art track and field stadium is being constructed.

The project is expected to cost about $2.8 million, including about an extra $100,000 per year in operational costs required to reroute the buses to the center.

The consulting firm Olsson Associates recommends that the city also seriously consider two other sites: 2029 Becker Drive, which is the KU Park and Ride Lot on West Campus; and 925 Iowa, which is part of the parking system behind The Merc grocery store at Ninth and Iowa.

The site at the stadium, however, has the lowest costs of the three. The Park and Ride Lot has an estimated $3.7 million price tag, including an annual additional operational expense of about $535,000 to route the buses through the center. The Ninth and Iowa location has a price tag of $3.2 million, including an extra $366,000 of annual operational expenses.

It will be interesting to think through how large numbers of buses will impact the thousands of people who show up on KU game days to tailgate around Memorial Stadium. There are already a large number of buses that arrive at the stadium on game day as part of the shuttle system the city operates from downtown to the stadium. But those buses are confined to parking spaces on Mississippi Street.

These buses — which I assume would be in addition the shuttle buses — would be on the stadium grounds themselves. And, a very key point here, they would be on a portion of the grounds that currently is prime tailgating space.

We may be setting the stage to find out how important tailgating is to the KU game day experience. Let’s face it, the last couple of years, it has been more important than the games. (If the city needs a consultant to advise it on KU tailgating matters, I certainly could form a corporation, so to speak. Of course, any good study will require a large quantity of a certain beverage, several pounds of prime beef, and probably a mobile flat screen television just to be thorough.)

City commissioners will get their first look at the study at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

If talk of this issue has left you confused, don’t feel bad. (The thought of a mobile, flat-screen television leaves me discombobulated too.) No, more than likely it is that you thought this issue already was decided. Transit center talk has been in the news a lot lately, with commissioners just last week agreeing to locate a transit hub in the 700 block of Vermont Street. What’s important to remember about that hub, however, is it designed to be temporary.

The city soon will have to move its transit hub from Ninth and New Hampshire streets, once construction work begins on the new hotel at that intersection. It now has been decided that the 700 block of Vermont Street — across from the library project — will be the temporary location.

But city officials all along have said they need to find a better permanent home for the transit hub. It had become increasingly obvious that finding one in downtown may be difficult.

It will be interesting, however, to see how much the city’s bus system routes must change once the main hub is no longer located downtown. It's possible that some routes that come downtown today may not in the future. The report doesn’t provide details about route changes, but it assumes “service to downtown would continue where feasible for specific routes.” It also notes that the city may be able to reduce some of the estimated operating expenses, if it chooses to rethink the number of buses that it sends through downtown.

It all may create quite the discussion. In the meantime, I think I’ll do a little “professional development” for my career in tailgate consulting.

Comments

blindrabbit 1 year, 5 months ago

Site seems a little remote to major traffic routes! Is it a good idea to route that much bus traffic through what is essentially a residential area? Also do you want that many transient riders in a residential area?, question the safety of such a placement!

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 5 months ago

"...transient riders..." Are you assuming that only homeless people ride the bus and they are dangerous? A wide variety of people, none of whom are dangerous, ride the bus for a wide variety of reasons.

gccs14r 1 year, 5 months ago

It's beyond stupid just from a traffic standpoint, not to mention air quality and noise issues in a residential area.

parrothead8 1 year, 5 months ago

In addition to the reasons listed above, this is also a bad idea because gameday traffic would bring city bus service to an almost complete standstill.

deec 1 year, 5 months ago

So how do those people who rely on the bus to get to work on those 8 days manage?

blindrabbit 1 year, 5 months ago

What about Centennial Park? Seems a lot more "central" to the population, close to major traffic routes, place up near the Polaris.

Ken Schmidt 1 year, 5 months ago

Woah, now that is the dumbest idea I have heard from the city yet. HOW is that location centralized. As an avid tailgater, I can vouch for how difficult it is already to get good tailgating spots without donating $25K to WEF each year. Now you take 50 or 60 spots away and push those people out to other lots? How about bus traffic trying to get through on gameday. I won't even begin to talk about the pollution, whether environmental or noise in nature which the students will have to suffer. It seems that in this plan, for this location, the city is merely saying, 'eh, who cares--its just the students and they leave each year--they don't matter!' Crazy.

bearclaws 1 year, 5 months ago

Did they consider incorporating it with the Kentucky Street side of the new parking garage/library project? Take out the stop light in the middle of the block and put a pedestrian bridge over to the pool. One way traffic would help and the buses could use one or two lanes down the block to park.

Or use the empty gas station at 9th and Ohio.

Kate Rogge 1 year, 5 months ago

God forbid it should be downtown where it belongs.

Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, it's adjacent to campus, but it is still essentially a residential area. This is an absurd location to consider.

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 5 months ago

You do know that people in other cities survive having public transportation. In addition to buses, they have streetcars, trains, subways, etc. and yet their lives go on.

Have you ever been to a KU party? If they don't mind that noise level they should not mind the buses.

Seriously, people, let us not panic every time something changes.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

"As for the discus, shot put and javelin areas, they would be relocated to the Rock Chalk Park complex in northwest Lawrence, where a state-of-the-art track and field stadium is being constructed."

That is a lot of driving for school athletes.

Is displacement a central part of the local economic platform?

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

"Transit center talk has been in the news a lot lately, with commissioners just last week agreeing to locate a transit hub in the 700 block of Vermont Street. What’s important to remember about that hub, however, is it designed to be temporary."

It makes since to keep it here considering the new parking garage across the street would make up for spaces lost. Perhaps the city could acquire the former Local Burger location ..... bingo we have a real transit hub. Why not ask staff to investigate this possibility? Might save a million which could purchase one more new bus or two.

A transit hub close to a hotel might also make sense.

whitecho 1 year, 5 months ago

yep. would of been a good addition to the parking garage being built near the pool & library. for walkability reasons you want the hub to drop people off in the middle of everything ... not a residential neighborhood, next to a stadium that will be used a few times per year. I recommend the book Walkable City by Jeff Speck. I can't really take credit for these ideas. I got them from reading this great book a few months back. it seems to make sense to me ... check it out.

Curtis Lange 1 year, 5 months ago

That location sounds like a very silly idea for this. The Park and Ride area sounds like the much better spot even if it would cost more.

John Pultz 1 year, 5 months ago

As a nearby resident, I would hate to see that green-space disappear. People currently use it for informal soccer, football, kite flying, and other sports, Also would this facility detract for the route into the campus from the north.

Eugehne Normandin 1 year, 5 months ago

Time for somebody to make an appointment at Bert Nash

gccs14r 1 year, 5 months ago

They don't consider it a central enough location and they're worried about the impact on residential traffic. Instead, they're going to drop it in one of the worst possible locations WRT arterial road access and impact an order of magnitude greater number of residences.

The train depot could be a good location (and then there would be enough regular traffic for a café in the depot), but they would need to make New Jersey a one-way street northbound to make it work.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 months ago

Of the locations being considered, I think the shopping center would be best. My choice is based on actually using a bus. What criteria are they using to identify possible sites? Why would they consider a site in a residential area with old narrow streets? The buses will tear up those streets and create more congestion than the area already has.

skinny 1 year, 5 months ago

Yelp, the tailgaters aren't going to allow that to happen! Where else are they going to drink their alcoholic beverages before, during, and after the games?

John Hamm 1 year, 5 months ago

Stupid is as stupid does. This is an absolutely ridiculous location for a transit hub - guaranteed you have to transfer to get anywhere!

Eugehne Normandin 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope the Amtrak will be extended to there. try this one out transit center at the KU boathouse train tracks already and river travel too.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

On game days that is going to be a disaster like none the public transit system has ever experienced.

What is the logic?

Leo Hawkins 1 year, 5 months ago

Putting a Transit Hub right on that edge of the campus is poor logic. What is positives of having it there? It would be completely taking up space in the tailgate area during football season. That area is congested already during the season, why make it worse?

Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 5 months ago

Wilbur, I can answer that question. I have been riding the buses regularly for ten years. I sometimes have to go to the hospital for tests. Where I live I go downtown on the 11 and transfer to the 6 to get to the hospital. There is only one bus that goes out there. Downtown is the only place where the 11 and 6 meet up. The same is true of the other buses.

Phoghorn 1 year, 5 months ago

Additionally, that hill on 11th is horrible in the winter. It is one of those locations where it does not matter how much driving skill you have, or what kind of vehicle you drive - it is treacherous regardless. (When I was a student, I dated a lady who lived in GSP, so I know all about that hill).

Although buses use 11th in the winter, the city leaders must realize that for several days out of the year, 11th will make for a horrible access road to the proposed transit center.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

Item one of city commission agenda June 25 2013

In February 2013 Olsson and Associates were brought under contract to perform a “Transit Center Location Analysis” for the City of Lawrence and Lawrence Transit. Olsson’s staff brings considerable knowledge and expertise to this analysis having performed several recent transit center studies and designs. This analysis was designed to be accomplished in three phases and take approximately six months to complete. At this time the first two phases have been completed.

At the June 25, 2013 City Commission meeting, representatives from Olsson and Associates will provide an overview of the process that was used for this technical analysis, as well as, the criteria used in determining appropriate candidate locations. As a result of their analysis Olsson’s staff will present three possible candidate locations to the Commission. These three sites are listed below:

--- 925 Iowa /

--- 2029 Becker Drive /

--- 1101 Mississippi - KU /

--- It seems to me the 700 block of Vermont should be evaluated advising city hall to acquire the former location of Local Burger if possible. Then stop moving the hub.

Based on Olsson’s analysis staff believes that all three of these locations adequately meet the requirements necessary to support a permanent transit center operation. Therefore, staff recommends that Olsson continue with a more detailed analysis of each of these three sites.

Action Requested: Receive the report from Olsson and Associates and provide direction to staff, as appropriate.

Attachments: GIS Process and Initial Candidate Site Memo Round 2 Candidate Site Evaluation

http://www.ci.lawrence.ks.us/assets/agendas/cc/2013/06-25-13/transit_center_memo.html

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

The 700 block Vermont location would be good for students as well after their ventures downtown.

It would be a great location for visitors and shoppers way into the future.

kusp8 1 year, 5 months ago

Those buses are going to destroy the roads around the stadium. If you want to know how bad it'll get go check out West Campus.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 5 months ago

I wonder if this "hub" would benefit KU athletics at all?

Dan Blomgren 1 year, 5 months ago

You have the whole city to choose from and you pick beautiful old west Lawrence, and as you enter K.U. to build a bus parking garage? I don't think you could have made a worse decision. it should not even be considered.

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