By Holly Cook
Creating calmer traffic and safer pedestrian paths were among the goals outlined in the Roe Boulevard Improvement Project, presented Monday during the Roeland Park governing body workshop.
Other notable initiatives include:
- Eliminate certain traffic signals
- Remove turn lanes with a low volume of movement
- Reduce lane width
- Create a multi-use trail
- Maintain four lanes of traffic
- Enhance roadway character by adding landscaping, gateway elements, and wayfinding features
The project will span the stretch of Roe Boulevard from I-35 to Johnson Drive and is estimated to cost $8.2 million.
As noted previously in the Shawnee Mission Post, potential designs include adding new median and pedestrian islands with crosswalks at the intersections of 53rd Street and Rosewood and 50th Terrace ad Roe Lane. Additional crosswalks at 48th and Skyline are also included in plans.
Traffic signals targeted for removal are located at the entrances of Lowes and Price Chopper (on the west side), Phillips 66 and Walgreens (on the east side), and the signals between Sycamore and 52nd Terrace.
Craig Rhodes, principal landscape architect at Vireo, said the process of removing unneeded signals and synchronizing remaining signals will allow motorists to move through the business district at a more even pace, instead of speeding up between lights trying to make it through.
“You are making people angry, so therefore they go faster,” Rhodes said.
The adjustments should allow drivers to move through the district at the same travel time as before, or quicker, he said.
Representatives from Vireo and George Butler Associates, who have been tasked to assist the city with planning, were present Monday as councilors mulled over plans.
Councilors voiced concerns with plans to reduce traffic lane width by at least a foot in several places, and asked if narrower lanes could potentially cause an increase in accidents.
Project consultants responded that reducing lane widths to 11 feet was consistent with new construction around the city.
Currently Roe Boulevard lanes are more similar to freeway widths than urban road widths, they said.
The visioning plan demonstrated how narrowing lanes will create space for tree-lined streets and sidewalk paths that provide a buffer between cars and pedestrians.
Councilmember Sheri McNeil said she was confused about plans to remove traffic signals and had concerns these changes would make it more difficult for residents to access businesses.
“I understand you guys are about form. I’m about function because I live here and have to go to these places….,” McNeil said.
City Administrator Keith Moody emphasized that as the process progressed councilmembers would be able to weigh in on specific elements within the plans.
“We understand that there are certain intersections that are going to garner interest and conversation and we will focus on those as we present these iterations of these plans to the council,” he said.
Councilors gave their consensus for Director of Public Works Jose Leon to move forward with preliminary recommendations.
The full presentation on the project is embedded below: