KDOT responds to city’s requests for K-7 safety improvements
The Bonner Springs City Council has given its support to closing cross-traffic on Kansas Highway 7 at Commercial Drive next year, one of many changes they would like to see to increase safety on the highway.
At its meeting last week, the council gave consensus for the move, one of the city’s suggestions to the Kansas Department of Transportation to address immediate safety concerns on K-7 as well as Kansas Highway 32. The city earlier this year sent a list of concerns to KDOT suggesting improvements that could be made even if the state moves forward with its freeway plan for the highway.
John “Jack” Helin, city manager, said funding for the suggested improvements could come from the highway’s “set aside fund,” which reportedly has $5 million available.
The city’s suggestions hit five main issues on the two highways, including several suggestions to make the intersection of K-7 and Kansas Avenue safer and more functional. The state has reported the intersection among the top 5 percent most dangerous in the state, so the city wanted to see some safety improvements made before the state’s plan to put an interchange there, which isn’t likely to happen prior to the year 2020.
The city provided 11 possible improvements that could increase safety at Kansas Avenue, from increased traffic enforcement to flashing lights alerting southbound cars to the traffic light they are approaching when it is certain the cars will hit a red light.
Officials with KDOT said that the Traffic Engineering Unit would complete a study at the intersection, including a collision diagram, before deciding if some of the suggestions were plausible.
For example, one suggestion to improve safety at K-7 and Kansas Avenue was that the speed limit be lowered from Kansas Avenue to 130th Street, and KDOT is collecting speed data in the corridor to consider the request. The state also said it would investigate the possibility of lengthening the left-tern land on southbound K-7 at Kansas Avenue.
The city asked that median barriers be added north of the intersection, but the state said such barriers are only used for freeways.
KDOT officials responded favorably to making Commercial Drive access to K-7 right-in and right-out only, determining the project could be let for bids next spring with the council’s approval.
Another suggestion was to add rumble strips to K-7 lanes for vehicles approaching the intersection to alert drivers to the traffic signal. KDOT officials said this was implemented at another location in Olathe but had yet to be found effective. They also said businesses at the intersection likely would not like the noise created by cars going over the rumble strips.
The state would not consider the city’s suggestion that a “displaced left-turn intersection” be placed at Kansas Avenue rather than a grade-separated interchange. Officials said such an intersection was considered during the planning process for the interchange, but they found it would only have negative impacts to saftey and the level of service at Kansas Avenue. They said creating such an intersection also would encroach upon Walgreen’s, McDonald’s and utilities properties.
The city asked that a guard rail be extended on the off-ramp for southbound K-7 to K-32, as cars often slide off the road and down a steep embankment in wet and snowy conditions, but the state instead plans to add more signage to make people aware that they need to slow down.
For K-32, the city requested a right turn lane on the highway at Morse Avenue, using the shoulder, to which KDOT agreed, saying it could be done through normal maintenance funds and KDOT staff when their work load permits.