Topeka Council Says Yes, to 21st Street Widening

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TOPEKA CITY HALL (WIBW) -- From proceeds of the countywide half-cent sales tax, Topeka City Council members agreed Tuesday night to start the process of paying $5.7 million dollars for a major widening project on 21st Street. It's the one-mile stretch between Urish Road and Indian Hills.

It is the final project on the list of improvements voters approved nearly 10 years ago. The project would expand the roadway from two, to three lanes.

District 6's Chad Manspeaker and John Campos from District 2 voted no on spending the money. They believe the total is too burdensome for the city to handle to improve an area on the outskirts of the city.. and would encourage Topekans to think about moving to the fringe area. The final vote was 7-2.

On another matter, Karen Hiller's proposal from the Bikeways Committee to re-word a biking speed limit ordinance was instead sent over for further review to the City's Health and Safety Committee. Her wording would change it from the current 5mph limit to what officers would deem a "reasonable and prudent" speed they were violating on city sidewalks. (There is no cycling allowed on sidewalks in the Central Business District.)

Manspeaker said he believed the language was too loose, and not legal enough. He said the judgment call from officers would infringe on the liberties of Topekans who chose to ride their bikes on sidewalks. Richard Harmon also said the language issue would keep him from supporting the speed limit change.

Cycling supporters said 5 miles per hour is even too slow to keep your bike rolling, and that TPD officers should make the call on whether the cyclist is a danger to pedestrians.