Dip in road may be linked to another accident
Sunday, April 2, 2006
A notorious dip on a road in North Lawrence may have caused another serious accident that sent a 15-year-old boy to the hospital late Saturday morning.
A large trailer attached to a Toyota SUV hopped the curb along North Second Street across from Johnny’s Tavern and struck the boy, Lawrence resident William Baker, after driving over the deep gouge near the intersection of Locust Street.
“If it was on the other side of town, the city would have fixed it,” neighbor Roxie Todd said of the bump in the road.
An air ambulance transported Baker to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., with severe leg injuries, Lawrence Police Sgt. Paul Fellers said.
Fellers would not comment on whether the road’s condition caused the accident, saying police were still investigating.
The driver, Lawrence resident John Olmstead, wasn’t immediately issued any traffic citations, Fellers said.
But Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Assn., said it wouldn’t have mattered if Olmstead had been speeding through the intersection or not.
The bump in the road is dangerous at any speed and has been for years, he said.
For many who drive into North Lawrence, the nearly invisible dip, situated just before a turn in the road, can make the trip under the train bridge nerve-racking. Drivers in the far right lane on North Second Street turn their wheel just as their tires bounce into the air.
For people driving trailers, Boyle said, it is nearly impossible to control.
“It’s a dangerous intersection,” Boyle said. “That’s a hell of a bump right there.”
According to most accounts, the dip formed in 1993 after severe flooding in the area. A sewer grate caused water to build there, creating a sink hole that never quite went away.
In early 2003, the dip may have factored into the death of Brian Arellano, 20, Topeka, when a car he was in crashed into the sidewalk railing on the east side of North Second Street. A police report said the vehicle was going too fast for conditions and that alcohol was involved.
Todd said she remembered that wreck well, and she swears the dip in the road had everything to do with it.
“I’ve seen a kid killed here,” she said while watching police detail the accident scene Saturday.
She’s lived in the area for 20 years, she said, and now has grandchildren who play near there. She wants to see the spot fixed.
Boyle has been working with Lawrence officials and the Kansas Department of Transportation to repair the dip. KDOT put the item on its list of repair projects two years ago, but construction isn’t slated to begin until at least early next year.
When it does, city plans that Boyle has seen call for the city to install two turn lanes along North Second Street at the intersection, using right-of-way from the grass area near the Lawrence Visitor Information Center at 402 N. Second St.
The project will cost millions, with KDOT paying for 80 percent of the project and the city picking up the rest of the construction tab.
Until then, Boyle said he would continue to keep the intersection clear. At least once a week, he calls the police to pick up debris that the dip spreads along the sidewalk and street.
Car parts, wallboard, logs — whatever cargo a truck or trailer might be carrying, the dip sends it scattering all over, he said.
And he’s tired of it.
“We’ve been dealing with this for a while,” Boyle said. “We’re eagerly awaiting this.”