Officials seek lower speed limits near junior high and high schools
As pedestrians head to the place where food is served at the speed of sound, they may have to run like greased lightning to get there safely.
With the opening of Sonic Drive-In on the north side of U.S. Highway 24-40 where an estimated 7,200 vehicles pass daily predictions are guarded about the safety of crossing the highway on foot. The speed limit at the site is 50 mph.
"We're certainly watching that closely because the high school is directly across from Sonic," said Mike Bogart, high school principal.
"So far I haven't seen any near misses or anything like that that would concern me," Bogart said.
Noting that the school has a closed lunch hour, Bogart said having a restaurant across the street isn't a problem during school hours.
But during recent tournaments at the high school, he said, it was a concern when people from out of town left the building for meals.
"I saw a lot of them kind of hot-footing across the highway," Bogart said.
Steve Woolf, principal of Tonganoxie Junior High, said it's not just Sonic that could prompt children to cross the street.
"We've got housing over there," Woolf said. "And if we don't have students living there now, there will be soon. It seems kind of silly to have a bus just to take kids across the road."
Woolf said that in the future something might have to be done.
"There may come a time when we will probably have to consider some type of lighting system," Woolf said. "As much as I don't like stoplights, that may have to happen."
Richard Erickson, Tonganoxie school superintendent, said the 50 mph speed limit on U.S. 24-40 in front of the high school and the 40 mph limit in front of the junior high are too high.
"I think it would be nice to lower that speed to 30 or 35 miles an hour," Erickson said. "We do have somewhat of a danger zone along there with students pulling into and out of the school parking lot areas. I'd sure like to see the speed limit lowered."
Bogart, too, expressed concern about the speed limit.
"I'm thinking it should be a maximum of 45 miles an hour out here," Bogart said. "It's 45 on county roads throughout Douglas County and here we have 50 right in front of our school."
Pat Albert, president of the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce and a member of the city council, said the four-lane divided highway was built for cars not pedestrians.
"And so pedestrians do have to be careful out there it's not a pedestrian crossway, and there is no pedestrian crossway marked," said Albert, whose business also is located on the highway. "I don't know how you correct that. I don't really know that there is a good answer. You don't invite people to cross you don't want people to do that but they're going to."