Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

City traffic engineers find new school would overload intersections past acceptable levels

March 30, 2011

A fully occupied new intermediate elementary school on USD 464’s south campus would delay morning traffic on key intersections near the campus beyond acceptable limits, an engineer told the Tonganoxie City Council.

That finding led the city’s engineers to question the conclusion in the school’s traffic study that the new school at full occupancy would not require new streets to handle the added traffic.

If district voters approve the $26.9 million bond issue Tuesday, the new second- through fifth-grade school would open in August 2014.

Jason Hoskinson of the city’s consulting engineering firm BG Consultants Inc. reported to the council Monday on a review of the traffic study Olsson Associates provided the district earlier this month.

Olsson made its recommendations based on traffic counts conducted during two January days and industry projections of added traffic from schools. Hoskinson said the methodology used to produce the district’s traffic study was appropriate.

The Olsson study found traffic would be delayed on the Washington Street corners of Starla Drive and Pleasant and East streets.

The district’s traffic engineers recommended the installation of turn lanes on Washington Street at Pleasant Street, Starla Drive and East Street to help ease congestion at the intersections.

Hoskinson concurred with those improvements but said they alone would not prevent traffic at the three intersections from being delayed 50 seconds or more in the mornings. That delay, which would give the intersections F ratings, indicated traffic exceeded the intersections’ capacity.

“An F level of service is not considered acceptable,” he said. “The question is: What do we do? One option is to do nothing. Is that acceptable? Some will say yes because we don’t have the money to offer a really nice facility.”

With that delay, motorists could become impatient at stop signs and take risks that could cause an accident, Hoskinson said.

Other options were to remove traffic from Pleasant Street by improving East Street from Fourth to Washington Street to collector street standards or the much discussed extension of 14th Street from the campus to U.S. Highway 24-40 at an estimated price tag of $2.28 million.

Councilman Bill Peak suggested staggered start times at the two campus schools of 30 to 40 minutes could reduce delays.

“If there’s a way to do this simply and save a lot of money — that’s what I’m asking,” he said.

The city engineer’s report also questioned the conversion of Starla Drive south of Washington Street from its current one-way alignment to a two-way street, which was proposed in the Olsson study. With that, the district is proposing adding a loop drive to the middle school’s east parking lot and providing additional parking.

Hoskinson said enough parking would have to be added to keep parents waiting for students from backing up along Starla Drive and further slowing passage through the Washington Street intersection.

Finally, BG Consultant’s response noted concern that policies be established at the mixed parent drop-off/pickup point and parking lot proposed for north of the new elementary school. Should parents not park in the lot, queued cars could back up, causing congestion on East Street. Policies would also need to be but in place to prevent children from walking through the parking lot while cars were backing out of stalls.

The city, school district and their engineers would get together to discuss the concerns raised soon should the bond referendum pass next week, City Administrator Mike Yanez said.

Because Washington Street is also Leavenworth County Road 6 and the county is responsible for its maintenance, the county would also be included in future discussions, Yanez said.

Comments

Old_Vet 3 years ago

The city has an agenda, they unwisely spent their wad of money on fourth street and a few other stupid projects (land speculation) and now they can't afford to make the necessary improvements. City council, let me help you out. School and road improvements are necessary. Necessary is defined as: 1. Absolutely essential. 2. Needed to achieve a certain result or effect; requisite: the necessary tools. 3. indispensable. a. Unavoidably determined by prior conditions or circumstances; inevitable: the necessary results of overindulgence. b. Logically inevitable. 4. Required by obligation, compulsion, or convention

Fourth Street and the land grab south of town are not requiements, not essential.

Unnecessary is defined as

Not necessary; needless.

Are you getting it?

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JerryB 3 years ago

FWIW, the school district, in my view, has more of an agenda than the city does. They want the bond passed; whereas the city has essentially no strong position on it either way. If I were to believe one or the other of the two traffic studies, I'd take the one developed by the city over one developed by the school district anyday.

Anyone who was in town when the current middle school opened and experienced the delays running for blocks all around that school can understand why essentially doubling the number of students heading to that site without any substantial road improvements (other than a couple of turn lanes) would cause quite a mess for traffic.

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jsctongie 3 years ago

Anyone who has had to pick up a student at the middle school knows that though they have tried many different traffic patterns. A new pattern every year since opening as a matter of fact, and nothing eases the congestion in the afternoon. The city has plans that will ease the congestion, 14th St and making East street a through street. They cost money, someone has to pay for it.

Just like the sidewalks, the studies for the last bond said that no new sidewalks would be needed ???????????????? really? The city had to step up to the plate and get creative and provide sidewalks for the students that have to walk to school. " change in district policy forced many, many more to walk rather than ride the bus". In getting creative they had to apply for a grant for sidewalks and safe routes to school, along with this came the state requirements for the speed humps that almost everyone in town hates.

I am all for the bond, the last bond issue addressed some of the issues but not all. This current issue could be twisted to anyones point of view. The people will be heard. My only point is that the traffic flow should include input from neutral sources and designed into the layout, rather than trying to fix it later. What is there now is not working, not even close.

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Michael Vestal 3 years ago

jsctongie is So right!! The traffic flow has to be addressed. I can't see how USD 464 can overlook the situation. The traffic flow problem puts it right back in the Cities court with the police having to spend morning & afternoon trying to solve traffic flow the District caused.

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momtongie 3 years ago

The school district hired a firm that specialized in traffic studies. This firm had no alliance with the district and no hidden agenda. I feel the firm is reporting the traffic study from an objective point of view.

From my knowledge, the city engineer, while very qualified, does not specialize in traffic studies. He also works for the city. So what he reported in an opinion based on what he knows.

The city had every opportunity to hire their own firm to do a traffic study, but they refused, so the school district had to go out and hire a firm on their own.

By the way, if you had listened to the engineer giving the traffic study report, he said that no matter how great the roads were designed, there is no school anywhere with a grade of A. He said that ALL schools everywhere experience a period of 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of the school day and at pick up time of high volume traffic that make their grade go lower. That's just the way it is.

I have been impressed that the school district has done so much research and planning into this to make it better. Will it ever be perfect? No. Will it be improved? Yes.

The school can only make recommendations on what they think should be done to city and county streets to improve the traffic based on the traffic studies. Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, is when the city and county, who are ultimately reponsible for the roads, make the necessary road improvements that meet the needs of a growing community.

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getagrip 3 years ago

I have a solution.....parents need to slow day, pay attention, and be patient. Unless there is a Tongie cop sitting on Washington Street, parents fly through there, speed humps and all. Plan ample time to pick your child up and get to your next destination. The extra two or three minutes this may take is certainly worth someone not getting hurt (or worse) over.

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getagrip 3 years ago

Sorry, guess that should read "parents need to slow down".

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Michael Vestal 3 years ago

Momtongie; For your information Mr. Hoskinson is a traffic engineer specializing in flows of traffic, just to clarify his expertise.

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mymonkey 3 years ago

School was going to do traffic study after bond vote. City asked that it be done early to know amount of school and tongie tax load ahead of time. This is in Mirror from a few months ago. Try archiving articles. I don't think anyone knows true cost of all of this.

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