Commissioners review 'road diet' concept for Fourth Street

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

An engineering consultant suggested Fourth Street in downtown Leavenworth could be changed from a four-lane street to a three-lane road that includes a center turn lane.

That was a concept reviewed Tuesday by Randy Gorton with Brungardt Honomichl & Company. His presentation came during a meeting of the Leavenworth City Commission.

The city of Leavenworth has been awarded a cost share grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation for making improvements to F Story ourth Street between Choctaw and Delaware streets. And city officials are planning to incorporate improvements to Fourth Street between Delaware and Seneca into the project.

The engineering firm Brungardt Honomichl & Company has been selected to do design work for the project. And during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners voted to authorize city staff to work with KDOT and the engineering firm to create a three-party agreement for the project. It is estimated the design work will cost $325,331.

Gorton's presentation reviewed some of the things that could be considered as part of the project. This included the concept he referred to as a road diet.

This proposal would reduce Fourth Street from four lanes to three lanes in the downtown area. With three lanes, there would be one lane for northbound traffic and one lane for southbound traffic. And there would be a center lane that could be used for making left turns.

Gorton said this change could increase the size of lanes for northbound and southbound traffic to 11 feet. With the current four-lane configuration, traffic lanes are 10 feet in width.

He said this may make it more "comfortable" for large truck traffic traveling this section of Fourth Street.

He also said the three-lane configuration may help reduce rear-end crashes because there would be a dedicated lane for people wanting to make left turns.

Gorton said his company has been involved in similar projects in other cities in which the road diet concept was used to reduce four-lane streets to three lanes.

"We just did this in downtown Shawnee," he said.

Gorton said about 15,000 cars travel on the section of Fourth Street between Seneca and Choctaw streets each day. He said the road diet option can be an effective alternative for four-lane streets that have a traffic count of up to 18,000 vehicles per day.

Commissioners took no action regarding the road diet concept.

Leavenworth Public Works Director Brian Faust later said officials will need to see if KDOT will allow such a change on Fourth Street, which is a state highway.

Faust said the improvement project will "remove and replace" Fourth Street in the downtown area. He said the project may provide the opportunity for other enhancements that may make the downtown area more livable from an aesthetic prospective.

He said the timing of traffic lights on that section of Fourth Street also is something that may be looked at as part of the project.

Faust said the project is estimated to cost more than $2 million.

KDOT has agreed to provide up to $1 million in funding for the project.

Faust said the construction work currently is scheduled to begin in 2023.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth City Commission:

• Listened to a presentation from Dan Gutshall, vice chairman of the Leavenworth County Port Authority, regarding a program established for constructing an industrial building.

Cities are being invited to submit proposals for partnering with the Port Authority to construct what is known as a spec building.