Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Study gets green light

Need for Lexington Avenue traffic signals surveyed again

October 13, 2005

As a bartender in Beer 30, Connie Shakelford has a good window on the traffic situation at the Lexington Avenue and Commerce Drive intersection.

"There's been two accidents there in the last 60 days," she said. "I think it (a traffic signal) would be a good idea."

This Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, the engineering firm Bucher, Willis and Ratliff will conduct a traffic count on the intersection, which also includes a ramp on and off Kansas Highway 10, and the intersection at 91st and Lexington. The surveys are part of a traffic-warrant study that will, as the name implies, determine whether traffic lights are needed at the intersections, said city engineer Mike Brungardt.

Three years ago, a similar study found lights weren't yet justified at the two intersections. But the study also identified 14 developments that could change that finding.

Nine of those developments, which included such things as Intervet, the Timber Lake and Timber Trails subdivisions, Hillside Village and Lexington Plaza, have come to pass. With that, it was agreed the traffic study should be updated, Brungardt said.

In addition to traffic counts, the study will look at such things as accident rates and time it takes motorists to clear intersections, Brungardt said.

Such studies are designed to find when a traffic light is needed, and equally important, premature. Brungardt said a traffic signal installed long before it is needed could cause more delays and increase accidents.

Based on the study's recommendations, the city may install both lights, hold off on both, or place a signal at one intersection, Brungardt said. But if only one light is installed, it would have to be designed with both intersections in mind, because both will eventually be controlled, he said.

The knowledge that both lights will eventually be needed could convince the city to jump the gun on a light at 91st Street should the study show it would be warranted in the near future, Brungardt said. That might not be the case at Commerce Drive, where the Kansas Department of Transportation would have to approve any signal.

KDOT's stake in that intersection could also mean the state participated in the cost of a traffic light, Brungardt said.

"We would certainly make that request," he said. "The last time we did a cost estimate, traffic signals were about $150,000 each."

The study's recommendations should be ready for the De Soto City Council's consideration in November, Brungardt said.

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