Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Chief seeks slower speed limits

February 14, 2001

Tonganoxie's police chief is a man on a mission.

Ken Carpenter wants to convince the Kansas Department of Transportation to slow traffic along U.S. Highway 24-40 in Tonganoxie.

So the chief plans to write a letter with the blessing of as many members of the community as possible seeking lower speed limits, pedestrian-activated traffic signals near schools and, perhaps, some traffic signals at intersections.

Equipped with maps, the chief talked Monday night with the Tonganoxie City Council and the school board. He received support from both camps. And Monday, the council adopted an ordinance aimed at reducing the number of unsafe trucks traveling in town.

Already, KDOT has agreed to new traffic counts along the highway. But Carpenter takes little joy in that.

"What I think it's going to take is political clout, rather than an engineering survey," he said.

Carpenter told school board members that the response he'd received so far from KDOT "wasn't the greatest."

Board member Rick Lamb said, "In my past experience dealing with KDOT, they've been terribly unresponsive."

In meetings several months ago, state legislators told Carpenter and other city officials that if Tonganoxie developed a plan for increased traffic safety along the highway, the legislators would help convince KDOT officials.

The chief's preliminary plans call for a reduction in the speed limit at each entrance to the city and lengthening the 30 mph limit. He also would like a pedestrian crosswalk in front of Tonganoxie High School.

He is concerned because of increases in the number of people living north of the highway.

"We could have a lot of kids crossing the highway by next year, with the manufactured home park going in," he said.

Charles Conrad of Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Services said he doesn't think a crosswalk is the answer.

"I think you're putting a carrot out there in front of a donkey and going to get somebody killed," he said.

He said it would provide youngsters with a false sense of security.

"We need to do something to make it safe for them," Carpenter said.

Within the next two weeks, a letter to KDOT will be finalized.

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