City requests traffic study at busy intersection
It's safe to say that since Santa Fe Market and McDonald's opened on the corner of Sixth Street and U.S. Highway 56 that traffic has not lessened at the intersection.
It's something Baldwin City staff is aware of and has turned to the Kansas Department of Transportation for help.
"Because of the new businesses there, there's a lot more traffic at that intersection than there ever has been," City Administrator Larry Paine said. "We have a letter into the department of transportation for a new traffic count. We're asking for it to be done in the early part of October."
What the city is hoping is that the KDOT study will show that a traffic signal is needed at the Sixth Street and U.S. Highway 56 intersection.
Brian Gower, traffic engineer at the Bureau of Traffic Engineering, couldn't be reached for comment, but in a January interview with the Signal, Gower said KDOT has done three traffic studies in five years at the intersection, the last one completed in May of 1998, but found a traffic signal was not needed.
Several criteria, including volume of traffic and pedestrian use, are looked at to decide if a signal is warranted.
If a signal was warranted, Gower said the cost for installing one could be between $60,000 and $90,000, or even more, depending on the type of the signal. He said usually, if a signal is found to be needed, KDOT would pay for 80 percent of the cost with the city paying for the remainder of it.
If KDOT decided a signal wasn't warranted, the issue would go before the Baldwin City Council for approval and the city would be required to pay the whole cost for it if approved.
Paine said there would be both advantages and disadvantages to having a traffic signal at the intersection.
"You could be waiting for up to a full minute for the light to change," he said. "But the value would be during the high traffic volume hours before school, noon time, after school and the end of work where it would work well.
"On the one hand, it's a good thing. On the other hand, it'd be an inconvenience," he said.
Paine said not all of the traffic problems along U.S. Highway 56 are at the Sixth Street intersection.
"In my view, the problems are not related to signalization," he said. "My chief concern is really getting to be speed."
He said he feels there are problems with both the posted speed of 35 mph being too fast and with people speeding.
"As you get into the core, we've got an awful lot of businesses we didn't have before," he said. "The problems are related to speed and protection in a crosswalk."
Paine said he also has concerns with the intersections at Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 56 and Fourth Street and U.S. Highway 56 where there are pedestrian crosswalks.
He said he expects traffic to only get worse over time, so drivers should pay attention at all times along the highway.
"People who drive defensively won't be having any trouble," he said. "Defensive driving is the key to successfully negotiating those intersections."