Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2010

Douglas County commissioners agree to help fix Baldwin City traffic hazard

October 21, 2010

— Douglas County commissioners are willing to pitch in as much as $60,000 to help fix a traffic woe just west of Baldwin City on U.S. Highway 56.

In August the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center opened south of U.S. 56 on the east side of East 1600 Road. The intersection, which is on a hill and has poor sight distance, has turned dangerous for those drivers heading westbound on U.S. 56 and turning left onto East 1600 Road.

“There’s typically 15 to 20 cars lined up at 8 in the morning. I’ve witnessed some near-misses myself,” Baldwin Mayor Ken Wagner said. “In my mind, there is no question we have an issue here.”

On Wednesday night, Douglas County proposed a plan that would extend westward by 640 feet U.S. 56’s existing three-lane highway. The extension would include a left-hand turn lane at the East 1600 Road intersection.

According to a study done by engineering consultants, the extension would cost about $550,000. Douglas County Public Works Director Keith Browning told the commission that the state would cover the majority of the cost.

As part of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Corridor Management Construction Project program, the state agency pays for construction costs up to $1 million or 90 percent of the total project, whichever is less. Local governments cover the rest.

The amount doesn’t include the design of the project, the purchase of right of way or the relocation of utilities. The cost to local governments is estimated to be around $100,000, Browning said and noted there would be enough money in the budget to cover the county’s share.

The commissioners agreed to help pay for the project as long as Baldwin City and the school district would cover at least 40 percent of the local share.

“We are talking about a school. I have no hesitancy. I support whatever we need to do tonight to move forward,” Commissioner Jim Flory said.

Earlier this week the Baldwin City Council discussed the project, but did not vote to support it.

“There is a safety risk here. I think as a mayor, our council missed an opportunity to get some state help in correcting a problem,” Wagner said.

With the county’s support, Wagner hopes the city council will agree to help pay for the project.


Stacy Napier 4 years, 2 months ago

This is another fine example of the School Board's incompetence. The city tried to get this done before the school was built, but the district had that traffic study done that said it would not be a problem.

I quote from the June 25, 2009 article 'The district did a traffic study to look at that intersection, along with others that would be affected by the new BESPC. The traffic study indicated the U.S. 56 intersection is adequate.'

They did this at the request of the the City Planning Commision. And they did not show up at the joint meeting of the City and County.

I say make the district pay the whole amount that KDOT won't pay.


solo 4 years, 2 months ago

This is a no-brainer. I cannot believe the city council did not support this and I am glad the issue is still being discussed. If you have ever been unlucky enough to be waiting to make a lefthand turn onto Lawrence Street as you watch in your rear view mirror as another vehicle is zooming up over the hill only to slam on the brakes as he sees you stalled there like a sitting duck you will know exactly why this is so necessary. Come on council--- the county and KDOT will pay for most of this. This is an easy one.


Stacy Napier 4 years, 2 months ago

If you read the article from June of 2009

You would see that the city and the county tried to get the school board to do it right, but they said there would be no problem. Why because they didn't want to give up any money for it.

They didn't even want to make the street from the two schools go through, but the City made them do that. It is the school board that did not want to do it.


robinbayer 4 years, 2 months ago

I asked the reporter at the meeting to please record the actual results of the vote in the story, but that did not occur. The vote to allow the City to enter a joint bid with the County was as follows:

Magers: No Plumberg: No Brecheisen: No Bayer: Yes

Councilmember Farmer was not present at the meeting.


true_bulldog 4 years, 2 months ago

Uh, Robin, you told Christine Metz, the reporter who wrote this story, to note your vote? Looks like this story came out of the county commission meeting, not the city council meeting. Just sayin'.


robinbayer 4 years, 2 months ago


You are correct that Ms. Metz' story was actually driven by the County Commission meeting. There was another Signal reporter at the City Council meeting earlier in the week who I had asked to list the results of the vote if the reporter were to write a story about it. When the story was published on Thursday I sent an e-mail message to Ms. Metz mentioning to her my concern about the lack of detail regarding the City Council vote.

I received a very nice reply message from her stating that she did not have the full information about the City Council vote at the time that she wrote the story but would look to include the details of City Council votes in future stories when possible. Thank you for pointing this out.

Robin Bayer 913-645-6666


true_bulldog 4 years, 1 month ago

You miss the point, Robin, which isn't surprising. You're trying to pass this off and it's not working. Maybe you should quit trying to tell reporters how to do their job and do your own. That would be to represent all of Baldwin City, not just your developer/banker people. You are a complete joke. We all realize you were appointed to this position for political reasons. We expect you to do the right thing and not be a puppet, but that's what you are.


NanCrisp 4 years, 1 month ago

Good luck trying to get anyone from the Signal to publish straight-up facts. There is either a hidden agenda in all that they do, or a dismal degree of reporting incompetence. You decide. I always hope it's incompetence over manipulation, but it happens so reliably that I believe such a great degree of incompetence would just be a complete embarrassment to the parent company that owns this "news"paper.


kermit 4 years, 2 months ago

Thank you Mr. Bayer for letting me know who I need to lobby to get this decision reversed. Can you please tell me why your fellow councilman did not support this issue? Also when will this issue be discussed again?


robinbayer 4 years, 2 months ago


There is a deadline of November 1 for the City and the County to submit a proposal, so if this measure will be reconsidered by the City Council then it will require that a special meeting be held enough in advance to give both City and County staff time to prepare the proposal. This somewhat implies a meeting early in the week of October 25-29 if it were to take place.

The following were major points of discussion for the topic by various Council members:

1.) There were concerns that USD 348 had not been asked to participate in the proposal and funding of the project 2.) There was concern that the City would be spending money on an infrastructure project that was not actually within the City limits 3.) There was concern about the City committing funds to pay for the project. 4.) There were concerns that at a cap of $25,000 commitment for Baldwin City (offered as an amendment) would result in an overall funding for the project of only $500,000 and this amount would be insufficient to complete the project. The amendment was defeated.

Robin Bayer 913-645-6666


BaldwinDad 4 years, 1 month ago

Those sound like a lot of good concerns and reason's to vote no on the amendment, care to explain what your reasons where for voting yes on this Robin??


robinbayer 4 years, 1 month ago


The various arguments laid out by Council members are legitimate and each taken on its own has considerable merit. I voted 'yes' for the following reasons:

1.) In my estimation there is likely no other way to get this type of construction done at a total cost of perhaps $40,000 to the City through other avenues.

2.) It is possible that we could apply for the program next year (after securing the participation of USD 348*), but there is no guarantee that funds would be available.

3.) Council members are correct that it is difficult to allocate funds to address a need that is outside the City limits but it won't be that far in the future when the intersection of US 56 and Lawrence Street will be within City limits. At that point, it would be incumbent on the City to address the problem.

4.) Council members are also correct that there are infrastructure needs elsewhere to which we could apply funds. However, there are no matching funds possibilities to address these other infrastructure needs at this time. This is simply a matter of attempting to secure funds from the State to pay for something that will definitely need to be addressed, so I felt that we should put this need ahead of others.

It is for these reasons that I voted 'yes' at last week's City Council meeting. It is also the reason that I voted 'yes' at last night's special City Council meeting where the City Administrator was given permission to participate with the County in a proposal for these funds. Two other Council members (Plumberg and Magers) also voted 'yes'.

This is what I refer to as a "gut check" vote. It takes a willingness to see further out and realize that taking certain steps now will benefit us in the longer term. Some will agree with the decision. Others will disagree politely or in ways that are less than polite. However, I do stand by my decision because I believe it's the right thing to do.

Robin Bayer 203 9th Street 913-645-6666

  • It is possible that USD 348 would not be legally able to contribute to this project because of their mandates to spend their funds only on certain things (pertaining to education). The District's counsel is looking into this now. If the District has the legal ability to do this then it is my belief that they should contribute to the improvement.

Stacy Napier 4 years, 2 months ago

Should have made them put Elm street all the way thru. Then there would not be a problem.

USD 348 should have to participate in the funding.


solo 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, USD 348 should have to participate. Absolutely--but if the deadline is November 1st that will never happen . I say that the city should go ahead with this even though it's technically not in the city limits but good grief--isn't it close enought that it affects almost every single person in west Baldwin? Has anyone seen just how much traffic goes down that road? This is money well spent. Hold USD 348 accountable later on down the line for more work that needs to be done on this intersection but don't just say "no" because you are keeping score with who is paying for what. This is important. Ted---I know you hate to break lose with the bucks but this time you really should think more long term than just the next couple of months.


solo 4 years, 1 month ago

For the sake of brevity please refer to my comment posted on the "Zoning Decision Puzzles Council" news article from this week. The point I make there is also valid in this case. We need to start thinking about City Council elections and encourage capable candidates to run. The inability of the Council to see the importance of this issue is a prime example of my premise laid out in that post.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.