Archive for Tuesday, August 9, 2011

City to ban parking on Shawnee near TES

August 9, 2011

The Tonganoxie City Council agreed to ban parking on Shawnee Street in front of the elementary school during school hours with the hopes it would improve safety during peak traffic periods as parents drop off and pick up children.

With the ban, parents will be allowed to drop children off at the right and left lanes of the one-way street but not park. The council gave Tonganoxie Police Chief Jeff Brandau the authority to decide whether the section of Shawnee Street in front of the school should be two or three lanes with the change.

The plan was chosen over a school district proposal, which would have made Third Street a one-way eastbound street for an hour in the morning and afternoon from Shawnee Street two blocks east to Bury Street.

Brandau recommended that proposal, which was developed in the last two weeks after the city council took a dim view to an earlier plan to make Third Street one way for the four blocks from Shawnee Street to Main Street.

Tonganoxie Elementary School Principal Tammie George told the council dangerous situations developed near daily on Shawnee as students attempted to cross the street between parked cars. Two students had been injured in accidents in recent years but fortunately did not require hospitalization, she said.

The district had looked at a number of solutions, including increased staff parking west of the school at the expense of playground space, George said. That continued to be an option, she said.

The Third Street plan was advanced in the hopes that creative solutions might be found with more eyes on the problem, George said.

The daily temporary one-way designation for Third Street would be confusing but would improve a dangerous situation, Brandau said in recommending the council approve the plan on a 90-trail basis.

If it weren’t working, the city could adopt a plan the city’s traffic engineer proposed. That plan would make Shawnee a two way street and construct a sidewalk on the eastside across from the school, which students could use to get to crossing guard protected intersections, Brandau said.

The council opted instead with the plan to ban parking on Shawnee in front of the school during school hours, which residents of the neighborhood also favored. The neighbors expressed concern the one way street option would make worse already existing parking problems and make it more difficult to use streets near their homes.

Neighbors did, however, favor additional staff parking on what is now the school’s playground.

There was no support for the one-way street plan among council members even on a 90-day trial basis. Councilman Dennis Bixby noted that would force the city to engineer and install the sidewalk on Shawnee in the early winter should the one-way street plan not work.

Bixby proposed and the council approved instead the parking ban on Shawnee for the coming school year with the suggestion it reconsider the issue in the spring, when it could budget for the sidewalk’s installation for the coming school year.

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