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City looks at reconfiguring 27th St.





How to address the high volume of traffic accidents along 27th Street from Plum to Hall was a topic of concern for Hays city commissioners at Thursday night's work session.

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV initiated discussion of reconfiguration of 27th Street, noting 44 accidents have occurred in the area the last four years.

"There's a lot of confusion because those streets do not line up with each other," Schwaller said. "I've seen a lot of near-misses where people are trying to turn and trying to dodge traffic.

"I think this is a bit of a problem, particularly the Walnut to Canal length."

Reconfiguring 27th Street to a three-lane street was explored in 2008. Schwaller said, at the time, approximately 10 homeowners on 27th Street voiced "legitimate concerns" about the loss of parking that would result due to the reconfiguration.

"But the problem is, the town's changing," he said. "And 27th is the only street we have that runs east to west -- connects 183 bypass to Commerce Parkway and Canterbury. And the traffic flow on this street is not going to decrease.

"It's going to get worse and worse."

Assistant Manager Paul Briseno said traffic studies of the area also had indicated several accidents involving cars parked on 27th Street.

When asked for his thoughts on restriping 27th, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said he was in agreement with Assistant Public Works Director John Braun, who earlier said the three-lane option was a "no brainer."

"When you talk about safety, everybody traveling down that road or the quality of life for 10 households ... it's what it comes down to," Scheibler said.

Commissioners agreed city staff move forward with contacting property owners in the area to allow them the opportunity to address commissioners regarding their parking concerns at an upcoming work session.

Restriping the stretch of 27th Street from Plum to Hall was estimated by city staff to be $20,000. If done in house, Briseno said the cost would be $6,000.

In other business, commissioners:

* Considered a vehicle abatement at 1803 General Custer. They will vote on the abatement at next Thursday's regular meeting.

* Discussed options for redevelopment of the old depot area owned by the city near 10th and Walnut. City staff was instructed by commissioners to explore a few options for the area including leasing the property for multiple uses. Briseno said staff will bring back some ideas for commissioners at a later work session.