Archive for Wednesday, March 13, 2002

It’s time for highway light

March 13, 2002

Baldwin City dodged a major dreadful bullet last Wednesday. Let's hope we learned from it and will take advantage of the "second chance."

For years it's been talked around town that we need a stop light on U.S. Highway 56. Some have said it needs to be at the cross walk where Baldwin Junior High School students cross north around Fourth Street. Others have said it needs to be at Sixth Street and the highway.

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) has said there doesn't need to be a light on U.S 56, but if there was to be one, it would be at Fourth Street, not Sixth.

Traffic counts haven't warranted a light at Sixth, according to KDOT. Logic by Baldwin residents has said otherwise, especially in light of the move of Santa Fe Market to the intersection and the addition of McDonald's there on the near horizon.

At peak times, around 8 a.m., at about 3:30 p.m. when school gets out and again around 5 p.m., that stretch of road is filled with cars and pedestrians. Still, KDOT has said no. What we've all said is it will take someone getting killed on the highway to make KDOT take notice.

That almost happened Wednesday. Thankfully, the key word there is almost.

Seven-year-old Xavier Robinson tried to cross on his bicycle at Sixth and U.S. 56 Wednesday around 5:15 p.m. The Baldwin Elementary School first grader was struck by a car. It could have been that disaster we've all expected. Luckily, it wasn't.

Still, the intersection was a hub of excitement. Baldwin police, Douglas County Sheriff and Kansas Highway Patrol cars were there. So were two ambulances. Lights were flashing and the countless motorists to stream through the intersection wondered what had happened.

Emergency personnel hovered around Xavier. All precautions were taken. He was put on a back board, loaded in an ambulance and taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. It didn't look good.

But, the good news out of all of this is Xavier was back in school Thursday morning with only a bandage on his hand and chin. Just a few minor scrapes and cuts.

Baldwin could take a collective sigh of relief. But what about next time? Will it really take someone, a youngster even, to be killed along the highway to bring a long-needed stop light on the highway?

Let's hope not. Let's hope we've learned our lesson, our "I told you so." Let's hope KDOT, for once, will listen. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. KDOT, take this ounce of warning, this ounce of "we told you so," and turn it into a pound of cure beforehand for a change.

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