Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Accident at intersection has officials looking at need for traffic signal

March 13, 2002

An accident involving a 7-year-old boy last week has city officials taking a closer look at the need for Baldwin City's first traffic signal.

Last Wednesday afternoon, Xavier Robinson was struck by a car while crossing the U.S. Highway 56 and Sixth Street intersection on his bicycle. Sgt. Colleen Larson said the vehicle was traveling west on U.S. Highway 56 at about 5:15 p.m. The driver of the vehicle was blinded by the sun and did not see Robinson crossing the highway on his bike.

Even though Robinson received only minor injuries and was back at school the next day, Mayor Ken Hayes said the city could see a more serious accident occur at the intersection if a traffic light is not installed soon.

"The volume of traffic makes it one of the busiest, if not the busiest, intersection in Baldwin," Hayes said. "The bad situation is only going to deteriorate."

He said he thinks a traffic signal would address most of the traffic and safety concerns at that intersection.

"I think there needs to be one," he said. "There's an issue there."

But the Kansas Department of Transportation disagrees.

In a earlier interview, Brian Gower, traffic engineer at the Bureau of Traffic Engineering, said KDOT has done three traffic studies in five years at the intersection, the last one being completed in May of 1998.

"Each time, KDOT never recommended a signal at Sixth Street," he said.

KDOT traffic studies, Gower said, found that the volume of traffic and pedestrian use at U.S. Highway 56 and Sixth Street were not enough to warrant a signal.

But others who must navigate the intersection every day don't see it that way.

Larson said she sees many problems with traffic congestion, especially before and after school.

"There's not necessarily large amounts of accidents, but there's the traffic holdup," she said. "It gets so congested, you often have a five-minute wait."

Even though there have been mostly minor accidents at the intersection, Larson said she is afraid things could get worse for both traffic and pedestrians, especially once the new Santa Fe Market and McDonald's are built on the northeast corner.

"I just really worry about the safety," she said.

"But I think it would help if we could get a light there," she said. "A light would slow things down."

Hayes said the public health and safety committee would be looking into getting a signal installed.

"I think that intersection warrants some attention," he said. "We need to make it a priority."

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