Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2001

Roadways can keep Eudora rolling

Long-range planners look at traffic concerns to plan Eudora’s future

December 13, 2001

Getting roads up to par and deciding better routes for traffic flow should be considered in Eudora's long-range plan, consultant Sean Ackerson told community leaders at a Dec. 4 planning meeting.

"One thing we heard in the planning meeting is that Eudora lacks identification at its main interchanges," Ackerson said.

For instance, the K-10 interchange with Douglas County 442 doesn't identify it as a Eudora exit. A sculpture, like the covered wagon sculpture supporters hope to bring to an area of land between the two roads, could mark a good gateway to Eudora, Ackerson added.

Other participants said developing traveler-friendly businesses near the interchange could bring more business to Eudora.

Planning commission member Duane Gentleman said if Eudora were to get a Wal-Mart or chain grocery store, placing the business near a K-10 interchange could be beneficial. The location could solicit shoppers commuting from Lawrence to the Kansas City area. They may not want to shop on South Iowa Street in Lawrence, he said.

"Why not shop there than drive five or six miles from home?" Gentleman said.

City council member Willene Blackburn agreed, saying she knew people who work in Kansas City but exercise at Sunflower Fitness because it's on their way home and not far from K-10.

The lack of a K-10 interchange at Winchester Road forces highway-bound traffic to Church Street/Douglas County 1061, putting strain on the roadway, Ackerson said.

"You've got to alleviate pressure off your main interchange, Church Street, and in the future, south on 1061," he said.

Ackerson asked if people had begun to use the 442 interchange in east Eudora more frequently, and city building inspector Rick Treas said he took that route every day.

But USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza said diverting traffic to 442 would require services like those near the Church Street interchange.

"It doesn't have your convenience store, or your gas station," he said. "People will go that way just to hit those on their way out."

Others in the group chimed in, saying many people stop in De Soto because of the prominent location of fast food restaurants and gas stations near the highway.

Consensus from community planning meetings dictates commercial development other than neighborhood services should steer clear of the Winchester Road/K-10 area unless an interchange is developed.

Chances of getting an interchange are "slim to none," Ackerson said, because the Kansas Department of Transportation won't want to add another interchange so close to the Church Street interchange.

That makes 12th Street a major east-west collector street for those living in west Eudora wanting to get to K-10.

"But it is limited by road width and width of the bridge," Ackerson said, adding that extending 14th Street could provide another east-west collector street.

"That looks like the most feasible, looking at the maps and driving around," he said.

Others in the group said property owners might have a different idea, since making 14th Street a complete route from Prairie Estates over to Winchester Road would mean filling in about three blocks of roadway by Spruce, Walnut and Cherry streets, which runs through private property.

The group also discussed how truck traffic might be handled in regard to downtown streets. Suggestions included re-routing truck traffic from Church Street north to Sixth Street and then across to Main Street, meaning truck traffic could avoid the more densely populated areas of downtown.

Ackerson recommended lowering the crown of the intersection at Seventh and Main streets and constructing bump-out curbs to define the turning radius. Such improvements, he said, could lead to beautification efforts, like street lighting and landscaping.

Planning efforts should consider areas beyond Eudora proper so that planning for the city limits doesn't limit growth in the future, Ackerson said.

"What we hear from people in those (outlying) areas is, 'We moved out there to live in the country,'" he said. "But you didn't move out far enough."

Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen said a good relationship with county planners helped, and he said the city should claim as much land as possible in order to plan for the future.

"We need to have some say over what happens out there. or 50 years from now people will be sitting at this table, wringing their hands and cursing," he said.

Long-range planning meetings will take a break over the holidays and resume in January.

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