Group of residents oppose one travel lane design for SW 12th Street

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Topeka has plans to reconstruct SW 12th St. from Gage Blvd. to Kansas Ave., to make it more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

But, one group of residents feels their voices aren't being heard in the process.

The 12th Street Reality Coalition (12SRC) is a group that formed after the City of Topeka proposed its one travel lane design for 12th St.

"When the city's plans were revealed to us earlier this year, without any input from us, that part of the city's proposal was to eliminate a driving lane, a number of us started to complain about that," said 12SRC member Michael Bell.

The city said public engagement has always been a top priority, saying starting in early May through the present, the design team has held 22 group or individual meetings with more than 450 people to discuss it.

But, the decision to eliminate one of the two current driving lanes on 12th St., still remains an issue for 12SRC.

Member Clark Trammell said, "The improvements that they are proposing, we all want. It's the narrowing of 12th Street is a real problem today, tomorrow and in the future."

Bell added, "We support the other improvements that have been discussed. Our concern about that though is that we were excluded from the other part of the process too. We want to be included and we want our input to be taken seriously."

Going forward, 12SRC hopes to be able to meet with the city as equal partners and create a proposal that benefits everyone.

According to Topeka's Public Works Director Jason Peek,

"The proposed one-travel lane design is consistent with the City's approach to designing street projects ... the data simply does not support replacing two travel lanes on 12th Street," Peek said.

"The public was incredibly helpful in pointing out changes that needed to be made to the design that ultimately improves the overall project," Peek continued.

"It has been a balancing act ... We will continue to meet with anyone wanting to hear from us. We do listen and we do care, even if we don't always agree."

The City of Topeka said they will continue to meet with anyone wanting to hear from them.

The 12th St. project isn't set to begin construction until 2021.