A $1.2 million plan to realign and beautify the intersection of Douglas and Hydraulic will proceed, despite concerns from a key business owner at the corner and opposition from two council members.
The project would eliminate a right-turn lane from westbound Douglas, which city engineers say is unneeded at the intersection, and replace it with open space and potentially some public art.
In addition, the project will reconstruct the intersection with dedicated left-turn lanes on all approaches, brick crosswalks and new traffic signals.
The city will pay for $800,000 of the project from its capital improvement fund. The remaining $400,000 will come from a federal highway safety grant. The corner has been the site of nine accidents since 2015, including three this year.
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The council approved the project without knowing exactly what the final design will look like. Officials vowed to work with business owners in the area to build something that won’t hurt their companies.
That promise came after Tim Devlin, owner of Devlin Rod and Customs, questioned whether the drawings shown to the council and the merchants were real or fanciful.
He said he’s not opposed to the changes if they make the intersection safer, even though they will make it more difficult to get to his car-restoration business, especially for freight trucks that deliver his supplies.
But as to the aesthetic improvements, he said the drawings of project concepts didn’t appear to be practical.
We’re putting this fluff up here to say, oh, look at the flowers and treescapes and all these kinds of things that we’re not even going to be able to do. I’m worried about what that reality is going to be.
Tim Devlin, Devlin Rod and Customs
“We’re putting this fluff up here to say, oh, look at the flowers and treescapes and all these kinds of things that we’re not even going to be able to do,” he said. “I’m worried about what that reality is going to be.”
Mayor Jeff Longwell assured Devlin that he would be kept in the loop as the final design is developed.
As owner of one of the corner’s most prominent businesses, “You deserve a better rendition of what the final outcome would actually be, and we’ll work on that,” Longwell said.
Businessman Daniel Moeder said he and his father, Leon, fully support the project. He said they own nine buildings with 22 business and residential tenants within a block of the intersection, including the Donut Whole, Sacred Heart Gifts and the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters.
This will improve the intersection, this will improve the property values, this will improve the businesses and the businesses that I represent as my tenants and our own business on that intersection.
Daniel Moeder, Moeder and Associates
“This will improve the intersection, this will improve the property values, this will improve the businesses and the businesses that I represent as my tenants and our own business on that intersection,” Moeder said.
Karen Cundiff, representing the Douglas Design District, said the association would continue to work with the city to ensure that the improvements actually are improvements for the businesses in the area.
“Our goal is to have every business see wonderful things from these improvements,” she said. “We never want to hurt any business whatsoever.”
The plan passed the council 5-2, with members Bryan Frye and Jeff Blubaugh in opposition.
Frye said he opposed it because he thinks the nearby intersection of Douglas and Washington is in worse shape and should be improved first.