Lawrence City Commission to consider delaying one bike boulevard due to potential cost increase
photo by: City of Lawrence
City leaders deferred taking action on the city’s first bike boulevards Tuesday, requesting instead to review the project’s finances to see whether one of the two boulevards can be delayed to keep the project within budget.
At its regular meeting, the Lawrence City Commission considered the final conceptual designs for the 21st Street and 13th Street bicycle boulevards and a potential $250,000 increase to the project’s budget. That would bring the total cost of collecting public feedback, designing the boulevards, and constructing the boulevards to $717,000, according to a city staff memo to the commission.
Mayor Lisa Larsen said that while she supports bike boulevards, she was really concerned about the increased cost. Larsen said she was interested in funding one of the boulevards and putting the other back on the list to potentially fund in the future.
“That’s something I could support,” Larsen said. “We need to try everything we can to try to get this thing within budget somehow.”
Because the two bike boulevards are tied to multiple funding sources and bond issues, Engineering Program Manager Amanda Sahin said that the project’s finances would need to be reviewed to determine how to separate out the funding. Ultimately, the commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Leslie Soden opposed, to have city staff determine the process and time needed to parse out the funding for the two boulevards.
Soden also didn’t want the project to go over budget, but disagreed about what action to take. Soden preferred only doing pavement markings on each boulevard and reevaluating them at a future date to see whether the markings had the desired effect of reducing speed and volume of traffic.
The boulevards are designed to reduce speed and volume of traffic to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. The boulevards include various features, such as 20 mph speed limits, speed bumps, restricted turns for motorists, marked bicycle crossing spaces, crossings with flashing beacons, and signs and pavement markings to reinforce bicycle positioning in the lane. All components of the designs are available on the city’s website at lawrenceks.org/bike-blvds.
Regarding the increased cost of the projects, the memo states that 70% of the increase is due to intensive safety improvements at the intersection of 21st and Louisiana streets and extensive public engagement regarding the project. The remainder is attributed to the fact that these are the city’s first bike boulevards and the city does not have accurate historical costs.
photo by: City of Lawrence
The 13th Street bike boulevard would extend from Massachusetts Street to Haskell Avenue. Originally, plans for the 21st Street bike boulevard extended from Iowa Street to Massachusetts Street, but that boulevard has been expanded, according to the memo. New plans call for the boulevard to extend south from the intersection of 19th Street and Ousdahl Road to the intersection of 21st Street and Ousdahl Road and then east on 21st Street to Massachusetts Street. The memo states that the alignment takes advantage of the traffic signal at 19th and Ousdahl and the connection to the pedestrian-bicycle tunnel across Iowa Street.
In other business, the commission voted unanimously to direct city staff to work with the Lawrence Arts Center on an agreement to use special tax revenue to help the center purchase a downtown property to create an outdoor space for public art. Staff will draft an agreement with the center and developers to move forward with a 2012 agreement to use a percentage of the revenues from the Tax Increment Financing district at Ninth and New Hampshire streets to help the center purchase The Salvation Army property at 946 New Hampshire St. The agreement will come back to the commission for consideration.