The Lansing City Council Thursday agreed to participate in a project with the state to optimize travel times along the city's main corridor.

The Lansing City Council Thursday agreed to participate in a project with the state to optimize travel times along the city's main corridor.

The signal coordination project for Kansas Highway 7 would include all of the traffic signals from Eisenhower Road in Leavenworth and Lansing to 43rd Street in Shawnee, Kan. It involves implementation of various technologies, like fiber optic cable connections and “firmware” installed on each signal to allow communication that responds to traffic flows and could speed travel times through all of those communities.

It's an idea that Public Works Director John Young said emerged from a preliminary study funded by the K-7 corridor committee after numerous stoplights began appearing along the K-7 corridor.
“They did the study, they did the preliminary cost estimates and essentially a very preliminary design for the project,” he said.

According to a briefing report on the proposal, the project is estimated to cost $106,140. The Kansas Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems set-aside would reimburse the participating cities for 90 percent of those costs. That means that instead of having a $69,180 share of the work, Lansing would only pay $6,918 from its capital improvement fund.

“We have an agreement in principle with all these communities,” Young said. “The city attorney is preparing some separate agreements to nail that down.”

Councilwoman Andi Pawlowski asked what would happen if the other communities decide not to go through with the project.

“Are we still obligated, and when we make this motion, should we cap our match at a certain number?” she asked.

Young said the council could cap their contribution, but that would limit the city's ability to move forward on the project should there be cost overruns or if the initial estimate is off. He also said Lansing, though it will serve as the sponsoring entity for the grant, would not obligated to finish the project should other communities back out.

“If a city decides to pull out of it, we won't build that part of it and we don't incur that expense,” he said.

But Pawlowski then asked how that could effect the efficacy of the project as a whole.

“If Shawnee does it and we do it but Bonner doesn't, what good is it?” she asked.

Young said he didn't anticipate the other communities dropping out, partly because of the estimated savings to motorists once the entire stretch is completed ― estimated to be $300,000 in fuel costs each year ― but also because those cities' financial contributions are proportionally lower than Lansing's based on the number of lights in their communities. More stoplights here also means, Young said, that if another community decides not to participate, Lansing still stands to gain from the work.

“What is going to happen in Lansing, if you look at that, is the bulk of the project, because we have a bunch of signals close together,” he said. “We're going to get a huge benefit just here in town. For every other community that participates, we'll get more.”

The council approved the city/state agreement for the K-7 signal coordination project.