Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Making speed limit sense

July 26, 2007

The situation with raising the speed limit on U.S. Highway 56 to 60 miles per hour is certainly interesting to say the least.

When we first heard the "rumor" about U.S. 56, it was raising it to 65. The problem is, we're all for raising the speed limit -- but not, as usual, in our backyard. We'll gladly tool along the majority of the road at the increased speed, but think it's ludicrous to raise it higher in front of Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center.

We're not alone.

When Tom Mundinger, principal at BESIC, heard of the plan from a phone call from the Signal Tuesday, he said it best:

"If they are actually going to raise the speed limit in front of the school to 60, I'm just appalled," said Mundinger. "I can't believe anybody with any common sense in their right mind would raise the speed limit coming into town in front of a school to 60 mph. Frankly, it should be reduced instead of raised, especially coming from the top of that hill coming down in front of the school."

Amen all around.

It was also interesting that the Kansas Department of Transportation spokesman back tracked on original comments regarding a "buffer zone" as the highway enters Baldwin City, especially near the school which fronts the highway.

Initially, she said where it's now 55, it will be 60. Period. But, a day later, she said that KDOT officials had actually discussed with City Administrator Jeff Dingman the possibility of the city annexing the stretch of highway. That would take it out of county control and into city control, which would allow for a buffer zone.

While Dingman confirmed that the subject had at least been broached, he wasn't of the opinion it was going to happen anytime soon. It needs to.

The KDOT plan calls for the increase in about a month -- just in time for school to start. Annexation wheels turn slow. This needs to be done before the 55 signs come down, the 60 signs go up and then they come back down again.

The stretch in front of BESIC has needed to be 45 from the start. People heading east and topping the hill who aren't familiar with the road suddenly find themselves dealing with school zone traffic. That there hasn't been a major accident along the stretch so far -- knock on wood -- is amazing.

What would be even more amazing would be to raise the speed limit there. That shouldn't happen and, from our standpoint, just can't.

Let's hope the city, county and KDOT get the situation taken care of. No, let's demand it.

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