Main St. changes hard at the time but necessary
Last week we discussed how traffic flow was controlled on U.S. Highway 73 before we were a city.
We became a city in 1959. Seven years later, July 12, 1966, the city of Lansing received three safety awards from Paul Taylor, safety consultant from the Traffic and Safety Department, Kansas Highway Commission.
The awards were for traffic law enforcement, no deaths during the preceding year and public education. They were given at the regular Tuesday night council meeting. Mayor Jackson Stewart was absent at this meeting, so I presided in his place. Police Chief Chester Dlugopolski and I were presented with these awards.
At the same time, plans were starting for the widening of U.S. 73 through Lansing. A letter was written and signed by all the businessmen in town to Harry "Bud" Timberlake, who was the state highway commissioner. The businessmen opposed taking the parking off the highway for the proposed four-lane improvement. There was much discussion about how to save the buildings, but everyone knew all the parking would be lost.
The businessmen claimed this would be a traffic hazard to patrons. Diagonal parking was in front of all the businesses on the east side of the highway, and parallel parking on the west side.
They further stated that if the present two-lane street created a bottleneck and the widening of the highway was necessary, the state Highway Department should purchase the business establishments.
This letter was entered into the minutes of the meeting. As the plans proceeded and were presented to the council, all councilmen unanimously approved it. This caused a lot of mixed feelings of the town's people because we would be losing our downtown.
However, this was the only way that we could have afforded a highway improvement that was inevitable. Seventeen buildings and homes were destroyed in one week. It was a terrible sight and caused much heartache.
We are all concerned with the changes going on now, but eventually when things are back to normal, we will be thankful for the turn lanes and the improved traffic flow.