Your Turn: Neighbors eye impact of proposed transit hub

The statement in Sunday’s editorial that the proposed transit hub can “likely be designed to accommodate the large number of buses without hindering traffic or negatively affecting the nearby neighborhood” is clearly not based on an objective evaluation of the project’s current conceptual design. As president of the University Place Neighborhood Association (UPNA) and a resident of the city of Lawrence who supports public transportation, it is my responsibility to form a knowledge base that understands: 1) the concerns of the neighborhoods, 2) the design aspects of the facility that impact the neighborhoods and the city and 3) the interests of the partnership between Kansas University and Lawrence Transit.

I am willing to exercise patience in this process while being open to the development of the design and its responsiveness to neighborhood and environmental impact concerns. As a shaper of public opinion, I hope the editor of the Journal-World will be a partner in this process.

I addressed the City Commission on March 8 requesting that: 1) our neighborhood be an integral part of the process from beginning to end and 2) we have the opportunity to review the scope of services for the environmental impact study that will be performed. Last week the consultant team presented conceptual plans for the facility and fielded perceptive and relevant questions form UPNA and the nearby neighborhoods of Centennial and Schwegler.

KU Parking and Lawrence Transit along with their experienced consultant team have been excellent in communicating and listening to our questions. The environmental impact scope is thorough and must meet the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and federal requirements. Included in the list of required documents are a traffic analysis, stakeholder/public involvement, air quality, noise, cultural and historic resources, aesthetics and more. This report is due in several weeks and should be critical in the community’s final analysis and decision to move forward on this site or not.

Consider the boundaries of UPNA including the blocks defined by 18th, 19th, Arkansas and Alabama. This area is on a direct line for bus ingress and egress from the transit facility to 18th as currently conceptualized. From 18th, there will be a large number of buses daily headed west to Naismith Drive then south to an already congested 19th Street. It is likely a final design for a transit facility on this site will hinder traffic and affect the neighborhoods, the question being can this be mitigated satisfactorily. We are hopeful the final decision on this project site will result in a positive outcome for the neighborhoods and community.