Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

A plea for public safety

October 13, 2005

Bonner Springs leaders joined residents in voicing safety concerns about an intersection along Kansas Highway 7 that has been the scene of numerous injury accidents during the last year and a half.

Concern over the intersection of Kansas Highway 7 and 130th St. is nothing new in the area, but official action to land a signal there increased recently.

"We felt compelled to send a letter (to the Kansas Department of Transportation) specifically requesting a signal there and indicating we would try and find funding and were willing to pay for it," City Manager John Helin said.

KDOT maintains accident summary reports within the state. However, the reports do not list all crashes, as non-injury wrecks involving less than $1,000 worth of damage are omitted from the files.

According to those records, nine accidents and six injury accidents have occurred at the intersection of K-7 and 130th Street within the last 18 months. A total of 13 people, an average of 2.2 individuals per injury-wreck, have sustained injuries in those six crashes.

Rick Schubert, a lieutenant with the Bonner Springs Police Department has reviewed accident reports from that intersection and said he would support efforts to place a signal there.

"We're not necessarily seeing a lot of accidents there, but the ones we are seeing are typically resulting in injuries," he said.

The rate of speed along K-7 and steady mix of drivers attempting to cross the highway to turn left may be contributing factors to the injuries drivers have sustained at the intersection, he said.

Kenny Neumann, who lives along K-7 near the intersection, said he is tired of seeing drivers carried away from that intersection in ambulances and medical helicopters.

"You can count on seeing a very serious accident about every other weekend, and I don't think it's right," he said before explaining that he goes around a back route or drives out of his way rather than attempt to turn left either onto or off of 130th Street.

"A stoplight out there," he continued, "would save lives."

A check of records maintained by another agency that keeps accident report records, the Kansas Highway Patrol, revealed that two crashes occurred at the intersection during one six-day time period last month. Two people were injured during a Sept. 22 crash at that intersection and another person was inured during a crash there Sept. 27, according to highway patrol records. It was not immediately clear if the KDOT report included both of those accidents.

Accident statistics have not gone unnoticed by city officials. Bonner Springs Mayor Clausie Smith sent the letter Helin mentioned to Edward Halter, a KDOT metro engineer, on Aug. 19, 2005. The letter informs KDOT of the city's formal request for a signal at the intersection of K-7 and 130th St. Smith wrote that the signal is necessary to provide "for safety and better traffic flow." The letter continued with Smith mentioning that city officials for two years have conveyed the need for a signal to Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller and KDOT officials. Smith also indicated the city would be willing to assist with funding for the project and take the lead in pursuing outside support and financial backing.

Helin said this week that City Hall has yet to receive a response from KDOT. However, he did say finding a way to place a signal at the intersection is a high priority and that city officials will follow up on their latest request if they do not receive a reply.

Halter was out of his office this week and unavailable for comment.

Newman, the Bonner Springs resident who lives near the intersection, said KDOT officials have opted not to respond to a steady stream of questions and concerns he has voiced regarding the intersection. He said he knows that installing a traffic signal is expensive, but he says another potential cost must be considered at any time when the cost of a traffic signal at K-7 and 130th Street is computed.

"I just don't know if you can put a value on a human life," he said.

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