Lawrence City Commission expresses interest in citizen-led concept for pedestrian bridge, other infrastructure; group says grants could potentially help fund it

photo by: RiverFront & Center

The community group RiverFront & Center created the pictured design concept for the proposed Kaw River Commons project.

City leaders expressed interest in a proposal developed by a group of Lawrence residents to build a pedestrian bridge and other pedestrian infrastructure for the Kansas River near downtown Lawrence.

As part of its study session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission reviewed the design concept created by RiverFront & Center, an eclectic group of Lawrence residents. The design for the project, Kaw River Commons, includes multiple crossings and connecting segments near the existing bridge across the river near downtown Lawrence, as well as two helixes that bring pedestrians up to the elevated crossings on the south side of the river.

RiverFront & Center member Kent Williams said that the group is not suggesting that all of the pathways be part of the project, but that the concept shows a pool of feasible options. Williams said phase one of the concept focuses on closing a prominent gap in the citywide trail system, the Lawrence Loop, which once complete would connect downtown to the Burcham Park segment of the loop.

There have been some issues regarding the design of the downtown segment of the loop, as there is a section of railroad track that the loop must cross, and commissioners said they appreciated the group’s creativity in addressing that issue and improving access to and across the river. Commissioner Lisa Larsen asked what thoughts the group had regarding how the project would be paid for.

Williams said public-private partnerships would be essential, and that the group is already looking into a few grant opportunities that could potentially be applicable.

Mayor Brad Finkeldei said he hoped the presentation would generate more discussion among the community, and that the commission would continue to watch the evolution of the project.

The seven-member RiverFront & Center group includes Lawrence residents with backgrounds in urban design, architecture, art and public health, including members who have worked on other local efforts related to infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.


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