Concerns raised about speed on 24-40
Traffic on U.S. Highway 24-40 is moving too quickly for some local officials. But the state won't consider lowering speed limits until a traffic study is complete this summer.
Considering growth in the area, it's time to slow traffic, said John Putthoff, Tonganoxie police officer. He pointed, in particular, to the east and south edges of town.
"It's 65 through that intersection there by Laming Road on the east," Putthoff said. "I think that's too fast. I'd like to see it drop east of there down to 50 instead of waiting until you get past the bank."
And on the south side of town at 12th Street, Putthoff said, safety could become more of an issue in the future.
"As these houses start to increase out there and with more traffic coming in and out of there, it could be a problem because that hill's there," Putthoff said. "Sixty-five miles an hour is pretty fast when there are cars pulling out on the highway."
Pat Albert, who has an auto parts business on the east edge of town, agreed.
"I think that within the city limits of Tonganoxie that the speed limit should be no more than 50 miles an hour," said Albert, a member of the Tonganoxie City Council who is chamber of commerce president. "The city limits of Tonganoxie now extend to Stone Creek and to 12th Street on the other side of town. I'd like to see them move those speed limit signs to those edges of the community."
Also in agreement was Chris Eppley, city administrator.
"I think the speed limits definitely need to be reduced through town sooner than they are," Eppley said. "Unfortunately, that's an issue that has to be resolved through the Kansas Department of Transportation. The city does not have the right to make those changes."
And according to traffic counts by KDOT, those changes could involve many vehicles.
Stan Whitley, KDOT information specialist, said the most recent traffic counts, taken in 1999, showed an average of 7,400 vehicles per day driving along U.S. 24-40 on the east edge of Tonganoxie, and an average of 5,200 vehicles per day on 24-40 at the south edge of town.
"As far as the lowering of the speed limit, according to our engineers and traffic engineering department, we did get a request from the city to lower it," Whitley said.
"We were already in the process of doing a road safety audit of the entire county."
Whitley said that KDOT should have the report finished by this summer.
"So we'll know more by then," he added.
But Pat Albert doesn't have much faith in KDOT's calculations.
"When they changed the highway to four lanes, we complained at that time," Albert said. "KDOT came out and one of their engineers rode the road and decided that it was fine. Which is typical of KDOT because I think with KDOT it has been well documented that the way you change speed limits is with body counts."
Eppley said he thought it might be awhile before speed limits are changed.
"What we have learned from KDOT is that that will probably not happen until they're able to determine that it is needed," Eppley said. "Their formulas for need have to do with engineering, etcetera, and so the speed limits are probably not likely to be reduced at any time in the near future, unfortunately."