Community members voice concerns about Topeka’s 12th St. reconstruction project

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The city of Topeka’s 12th St. reconstruction project is facing some opposition from people in surrounding neighborhoods.

That’s what brought them to Faith Temple Church in Central Topeka Saturday afternoon to express why the city should consider their concerns.

Michael Bell is a member of the 12th Street Reality Coalition. It’s a group of community members who are working to get the city to consider their concerns before moving forward with the project.

“They debuted their proposal this spring and that proposal includes eliminating a driving lane along southwest 12th, which we oppose,” said Bell.

The project would take the stretch of S.W. 12th St. from Gage Blvd. to Kansas Ave. from two lanes down to one lane.

The existing layout of S.W. 12th St.
The proposed layout of S.W. 12th St.

Public Works Director Jason Peek said it will make space for things like shorter pedestrian crosswalks and wider sidewalks, making travel safer, while still maintaining the traffic flow.

“There’s a lot of technical data behind that,” said Peek. “We do transportation modeling, looking at congestion and capacity. Those things were done before we started the project and that’s where we came to the one travel lane.”

But, Bell and members of the coalition aren’t sold on the concept. Bell believes the traffic flows through the area just fine as is.

Since the city presented the project in May, they’ve received a lot of feedback from people in the community.

“We’ve had over 22 different meetings whether it be with individuals, neighborhood improvement associations, neighborhood groups and business owners over the last six months,” Peek said. “Through some of that feedback, there have been changes that have resulted in the project.”

Bell feels the community’s concerns have not been taken into consideration enough and would like to see that change.

“That way, everyone to the greatest extent possible can have whatever their goals are satisfied,” said Bell. “It’s called compromise.”

The city said getting the public’s input is an important part of their process and they want to continue hearing from everyone, even if they don’t always agree.

Construction on the project is slated to start in 2021 and will be completed in 2023.

To learn more about the project or to submit your input, click HERE.

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