Lawrence City Commission to consider future site of bus-transfer hub

photo by: Mike Yoder

Pictured on May 6, 2019 is the intersection of Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive, which the Lawrence City Commission will consider selecting the southeast corner for the site of the Lawrence Transit Transfer Hub.

After years of debate, city leaders will soon consider selecting a site on Bob Billings Parkway for the location of a future bus-transfer hub.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider selecting the area along the south side of Bob Billings Parkway, between Crestline Drive and Iowa Street, as the final site for the Lawrence Transit Transfer Hub. The site would potentially serve as a bus-transfer point and the location of an indoor bus station for the city bus service, which is coordinated with the University of Kansas service.

Tuesday’s vote follows years of discussion — including opposition from neighbors near previously considered sites — about the site of the bus-transfer hub. The city paid for two consultant-led location studies, the first conducted in 2014 and the second in 2018. Though the Bob Billings site was not the final recommendation in either study, a memo from city staff to the commission notes that in both studies the site was considered one of the top seven locations and staff believes the location provides an “adequate opportunity” for the hub.

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The results of both studies recommended that the city consider locating the hub near the intersection of 21st and Iowa streets, and in both instances residents from the adjacent Schwegler Neighborhood opposed the project.

Last summer, after receiving the results of the 2018 study and a protest petition from neighbors, Commissioner Stuart Boley and Mayor Lisa Larsen indicated that they would like the city to consider the Bob Billings Parkway site, as it scored high on the consultant’s evaluation and was located outside residential areas. KU owns the land, and consultants originally said that the university preferred developing the site as part of a gateway to west campus, but the commission directed staff to ask KU to reevaluate the site. KU subsequently indicated that it preferred the Bob Billings Parkway site to the one on Stewart Avenue.

City staff are recommending that the commission select the site, located on the southeast corner of Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive, as the final site for the Lawrence Transit Transfer Hub. As part of its meeting, the commission will also consider authorizing city staff to work with KU on necessary preparations and analysis for a design proposal.

If the commission approves the Bob Billings site, Tuesday’s decision will be followed by others related to the bus-transfer hub. Future commission decisions will include authorization to enter a land use agreement with KU; professional services agreements for technical assistance in evaluating the site and designing improvements; and the project construction procurement process, according to the memo. The memo states that staff will keep the commission apprised as discussions with KU proceed and timelines are identified.

Money for the bus-transfer hub was allocated as part of the additional sales tax created to operate and expand the city’s bus service, which voters originally approved in 2008. About $5 million to build the transfer hub has been set aside. Lawrence residents voted in 2017 to continue the 0.2 percent sales tax for transit operations for another 10 years.

In other business Tuesday, the commission will:

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• Receive update on the police headquarters project and consider approving the master plan for a park proposed for the approximately 30-acre site. The design of the park includes about a dozen features, including a shared-use path, a treehouse, a rope bridge, fitness equipment, playground equipment and a boulder plaza with water spray features. The plan for the park is broken into five phases, the first of which calls for paths, fitness equipment and a maintained green space, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Future capital improvement projects related to the park will be submitted for consideration as funding allows.

• Consider authorizing city staff to issue a Request for Proposals for preliminary design services for a city field operations and maintenance facility that would replace maintenance sites used by various departments throughout the city. Staff estimates design services for the facility would cost about $150,000, according to a city staff memo to the commission. City staff evaluated 12 potential sites for the facility, the city-owned remediation area on the former Farmland Industries site as the location.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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