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23rd and Iowa, 23rd and Ousdahl improvements up for discussion at City Hall

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Whether it is via bus, via car, or via a boat through the intersection of 23rd and Ousdahl, Lawrence city commissioners are set to discuss a host of transportation issues this week. (Spoiler alert: They're trying to decrease the need for a boat at 23rd and Ousdahl.)

Here's a look at several transportation projects up for discussion at Tuesday evening's commission meeting:

• On the bus front, it's time for the city to award a new contract for its transit operations. City staff members are recommending that the current private contractor, Dallas-based MV Transportation, be awarded the service for another five years.

First Transit, the contractor that provides bus service for the Lawrence public schools, was the only other company that submitted a proposal.

MV Transportation is the current operator of Kansas University's transit system as well. KU officials also are recommending a new contract for MV, which will allow the city and KU to continue operating a coordinated system.

Based on a city memo, it looks like MV's experience in operating the transit system is a major factor in the city staff recommending an extension.

As for costs, that detail is yet to be determined. Tuesday's action by the city commission will authorize staff members to begin negotiations with MV Transportation. I assume both proposals received by the city did include some basic information about pricing for the service. That information isn't part of the information I've received from the city, but I've asked for it.

City commissioners will take final action to approve a new contract sometime before the end of the year, which is when MV's current contract expires.

• There's always a reason to curse at the intersection of 23rd and Iowa streets: Lamenting curses that there is no longer a Hardee's and its crispy curl fries at the intersection; regretful curses about how much money I once spent on crispy curl fries; physician-related curses about my doctor and his stupid cholesterol tests.

Well, add a new reason to curse at the intersection, at least temporarily. It is set to undergo major construction in 2014.

As we've previously reported, the intersection will receive new turn lanes and traffic signals in an effort to improve flow through what is one of the busier intersections in town.

But now details on the project are starting to become more concrete. City commissioners will set Oct. 29 as the bid date for the project. Construction work is scheduled to begin in the spring and last into the fall of 2014.

Motorists will notice the construction. During much of the project, traffic will be limited to one through lane and one left-turn lane. Traffic will be shifted to various sides of the intersection as well, in order to give construction crews more room to work.

When the intersection improvements are complete, every approach will have dual left-turn lanes. The sweeping right turn lanes also will be redesigned to make it safer for vehicles turning right to merge into traffic. The intersection also will be more heavily landscaped — including a new Kansas University welcome sign and flowerbed. Plans also call for brick-like crosswalks and more aesthetically pleasing medians.

Click here to see a rendering of the intersection design.

The improvements are estimated to cost about $3 million, with about $1.75 million of the funding coming from state and federal grants.

• If you have driven through the intersection of 23rd and Ousdahl in a heavy rainstorm, you perhaps have wished your emergency kit in your trunk included an inflatable raft.

Well, don't make that raft purchase just yet. After years of talk, city officials are set to put pencil to paper on a solution for stormwater flooding at 23rd and Ousdahl.

Commissioners are being asked to approve an approximately $90,000 contract with BG Consultants to design a stormwater improvement project for the intersection. Exactly what that will involve isn't known yet, but engineers say one possibility is a detention basin located on the western portion of the nearby Schwegler School property.

If approved, construction work would take place in 2014.

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  • Comments

    Erinn Barroso 1 year, 6 months ago

    Wow, 23rd and Iowa sounds like it will be super fun to drive through next year. Another topic- Chad: do you know what happened to Curry in a Hurry?

    gccs14r 1 year, 6 months ago

    The argument for the SLT was that it would take traffic off of both 23rd and Iowa. Maybe they should wait until the SLT is open before committing funds to road improvements that aren't necessary. (Never mind that the SLT was never going to substantially reduce traffic on either 23rd or Iowa and that we've been lied to about it for 30 years.)

    If they're going to go to the trouble of redesigning the intersection, they should instead cut a notch through the hill for 23rd to pass beneath Iowa and turn it into an interchange.

    Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 6 months ago

    Ooooh... sometimes crazy talk sounds Gooooood...

    Brent Atwater 1 year, 6 months ago

    I believe if the City waits until the SLT is open to start the project then the City would bear the primary burden as Iowa/23rd St would no longer be considered K-10.

    myop 1 year, 6 months ago

    Chad, do you know what they are building just west of this intersection? On the north side of 23rd. Looks like it could be a fast food joint. Maybe Hardees will make a come back??!!! And, too bad the old Pizza Hut to the east of this intersection still sets empty after what, 20 years. What an eye sore.

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