U.S. 24-40 intersection talks continue to heat up
Everyone who spoke at Monday’s Tonganoxie City Council meeting agreed about one thing regarding improvements to U.S. Highway 24-40 on the east side of town: a traffic signal is needed.
But as discussions about future improvements pushed on for a fourth meeting — this time before an overflow crowd in council chambers — coming to a consensus about where to install the signal could not be made after nearly 2 1/2 hours of discussion.
Roughly 75 people attended Monday’s meeting, most of whom were interested in the U.S. 24-40 debate. Capacity is 65 people, so some stood outside and eventually were able to listen to the discussion with the door to the chambers left open.
The city is weighing its options of how to handle traffic issues at Laming Road at U.S. 24-40 and Stone Creek Drive/South Park at U.S. 24-40.
Council members Jim Truesdell and Kara Reed said they favored accepting all proposed Kansas Department of Transportation improvements, which consist of a signalized intersection at Laming Road and frontage road on the south side of U.S. 24-40 from Laming Road to South Park Drive. There also would be no-left-turn-out at South Creek/South Park, but movement the other three directions. KDOT would fully fund construction of the option and likely start work later this year if the council approved the proposal. Cost of the project is estimated at $1.65 million, with KDOT paying for all construction costs and 90 percent of design costs.
“I don’t want to wait two to three years to do something to this intersection,” Reed said.
The city could apply for funding for improvements at U.S. 24-40 and Stone Creek/South Park, but it would be a competitive application process, so it’s uncertain whether the city would receive any funding for that project. If that were successful, construction is expected to be completed in 2015 or 2016.
The inability of drivers to turn left does not sit well with council member Bill Peak, who prefers acceleration and de-acceleration lanes at Stone Creek/South Park.
“It puts the city in a bad position,” Peak said. “You’re trying to retrofit something.”
Peak said he didn’t have a preference whether the traffic light were installed at Laming Road or South Park/Stone Creek, but he continued to voice concern about how restrictions of a three-quarter turn at Stone Creek/South Park would affect businesses.
Steve Kelly, who owns the retail center, and Mary Krouse, owner of Mary’s Retail Liquor, say the traffic light should be installed at Stone Creek/South Park and any plans to prohibit left turns would be detrimental to business.
Several residents who attended Monday’s meeting — many of whom live in the Stone Creek and South Park subdivisions — said Stone Creek/South Park was the intersection that needed a traffic light, saying it was the more dangerous intersection.
“I don’t know whether we’re waiting for body bags or what,” one resident said.
Other residents said a sound barrier was needed between residences south of U.S. 24-40 and a frontage road if the road were to be built.
As for the Laming Road intersection, another resident suggested a roundabout be placed at Woodfield and Laming Road if a light were to be installed at Laming Road and U.S. 24-40 to help with traffic flow.
Council member Chris Donnelly said he would abstain from voting because of a conflict of interest — he owns about 60 acres of undeveloped land just east of Kelly’s retail center — but he said he preferred improvements to the Stone Creek/South Park intersection.
Council members said they wanted to work with KDOT to see whether proposals for a light at Laming Road and improvements to Stone Creek/South Park can be tweaked.
The next council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, April 8, in council chambers.