Archive for Thursday, April 29, 2004

City Council slams breaks on speed limit increase

April 29, 2004

A proposal that would have allowed an increase to speed limits along 155th Street appeared to be on cruise control at Monday night's Basehor City Council meeting. Until, that is, it was time to vote.

That's when the City Council slammed on the brakes.

Fueled by the opposition of residents along the city's main drag, City Council members denied the speed limit increases, 3-2. City Council members Bill Hooker, John Bonee and Iris Dysart voted against the increases.

The measure city officials and the public discussed Monday would have increased speed limits on 155th Street from U.S. highway 24/40 to the city's northern boundaries, a two-and-a half mile stretch.

The proposal did take into account public safety; the proposal would have included the additions of flashing school-zone lights, pedestrian crossing lights and crosswalks.

Last week, during a work session, City Council members seemed intent on bolstering the speed limits along 155th Street, citing a need to move traffic more quickly. However, resident opposition Monday night swayed some council members.

Burl Gratny, who lives on 155th Street south of Parallel Road, is a former City Council member who in 2000 pushed for a speed limit reduction. He said increasing the speed limits along 155th Street would pose plenty of risk for little reward.

"You will save 30 seconds," Gratny said. "I don't think anyone would worry about 30 seconds."

The proposal voted on Monday would have increased the speed limit between U.S. Highway 24/40 and Parallel Road, from 30 to 40 miles per hour. When asked whether 35 miles per hour would satisfy Gratny's concerns, he said, "I wouldn't be as unhappy as 40."

Gratny's wasn't the only voice of concern Monday night.

"I didn't come to plead for myself," said Sandy Grimes, a Basehor resident who lives north of Leavenworth Road on 155th Street. "I came to plead for the children."

Grimes said she is worried for the safety of children in her neighborhood while crossing the street.

She said an increased speed limit would make an already dangerous situation worse.

"I just hope you listen to us because those kids are in danger and so are my nerves," she said.

Dennis Mertz, who lives on 155th Street just north of the Basehor Community Library, said he has issued citizen's arrest citations to drivers speeding through his section of 155th Street.

Mertz said he drives at or below the posted speed limit on 155th Street because he's cautious of the roadway's busy motorist and pedestrian traffic.

"I'm one of the guys doing 17 (miles per hour)," Mertz said. "That's a speed limit not a speed minimum."

Mertz proposed the city commission conduct a speed limit study of 155th Street before reaching any decision on an increase.

"I'm concerned about the safety of my citizens and pedestrians," he said. "This is a nice town and I don't want it destroyed by traffic. I'm sick and tired of all the speeding. I want Basehor to be a nice place where people can walk across the street without being in fear for their lives and a place where, if you speed, you'll get a ticket. I just want people to obey the law."

City Council members said the city wasn't acting cavalier in proposing a speed limit increase, but out of respect for residents complaining about the slow speeds.

"The bottom line is we do care about the citizens of this city, and we take all their feelings into account," City Council member Keith Sifford said.

"If I seriously thought raising the speed limit five or 10 miles would kill a kid there's no way I would do it," City Council member John Bonee added. "We're not trying to make a raceway."

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