Archive for Monday, February 14, 2011

KDOT pledges $550,000 to make school intersection safer

Westbound traffic, including a school bus, attempts to turn south off U.S. Highway 56 on Thursday morning. KDOT has agreed to spend $550,000 to fix the troublesome intersection near Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center at U.S. Highway 56 and East 1600 Road. The project won't start until summer of 2013.

Westbound traffic, including a school bus, attempts to turn south off U.S. Highway 56 on Thursday morning. KDOT has agreed to spend $550,000 to fix the troublesome intersection near Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center at U.S. Highway 56 and East 1600 Road. The project won't start until summer of 2013.

February 14, 2011

The Kansas Department of Transportation has agreed to spend $550,000 to fix a dangerous intersection near the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.

The intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and East 1600 Road is one of 13 sites in the state that will receive funding as part of KDOT’s corridor management plan, which works to address traffic problems that arise on busy roads.

For Baldwin City residents, concerns over safety at the intersection were exacerbated in August when the newly built school opened.

Each morning, traffic backs up in the westbound lane of U.S. 56 as drivers wanting to turn onto the road that leads to the school must stop and wait for oncoming traffic to pass. Because the intersection is on a hill and at a spot with poor sight distance, residents fear a high-speed rear-end collision.

KDOT’s $550,000 would cover the construction costs of extending U.S. 56’s existing three-lane highway through Baldwin City by 640 feet. That three-lane road would allow for a left-hand turn lane at the East 1600 Road intersection.

Work on the intersection is slated for the summer of 2013. KDOT had considered completing the project sooner but wanted to incorporate the upgrades into another U.S. 56 project that would replace bridges along that stretch of road, said Jessica Upchurch, who is KDOT’s corridor management engineer.

KDOT would cover the construction costs while local communities would have to come up with the money to cover the design of the project, utility relocation and right-of-way purchase. The cost to local governments is estimated at $140,000.

Last fall, Douglas County Commissioners agreed to cover up to 60 percent of the local governments’ portion of the project, but only if Baldwin City and the school district would cover the rest. Baldwin City later agreed to cover the other 40 percent, even though the intersection is just outside its city limits.

The school district’s legal counsel has said because the school district doesn’t own land immediately adjacent to the road, it can’t legally spend tax dollars to improve it.

“It is of interest to our school board, but they just want to make sure they can do what they can legally do,” Superintendent Paul Dorathy said.

When the school district was in the planning process of building the school, neither KDOT nor consultants who did a traffic study anticipated problems with the intersection, Dorathy said.

At that time, KDOT advised dropping the speed limit to 45 mph and extending the school zone further west. Both were done.

Since the school opened, Dorathy said he hasn’t heard of any accidents at the intersection. Still, he said the improvements will help drivers feel safer.

“It will lessen the chance of an accident occurring there,” he said.


SASHA 9 years, 8 months ago

Didn't realize the city could spend funds on projects outside the city limits. Sounds like a state, school, and county issue. It needs to be fixed ASAP, but it isn't the city of Baldwin's problem.


Torch 9 years, 8 months ago

I love it when a plan comes together. We did plan this didn't we?


BaldwinDad 9 years, 8 months ago

LoL...just another example of really poor planning by all parties they could not anticipate car loads of people making a left hand turn on a blind spot would not be a problem.


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago


Please see the following text from the February 2, 2009 minutes of the Baldwin City Council. I believe that the City Staff, the City Council, and the Planning Commission took the proper approach with regard to stating their opinion to USD 348 in matters pertaining to traffic patterns with regard to the school project:

Councilmember Brecheisen questioned if the typical process was for the developer or property owners to pay for the street and then turn it over to the city. City Administrator Dingman answered yes, that had been the precedence for private developments. Wagner asked if anyone had met with Douglas County about the impact the increased traffic would have on Lawrence Street. Dorathy confirmed he had and said Lawrence Street was to be part of the traffic study. Councilmember Brecheisen said he was disappointed that the street issues were not resolved prior to the bond issue being passed. Councilmember Wagner asked Kyle Trendel, who sits on the city’s planning commission and was in attendance, to speak about the planning commission’s discussion on the topic. Trendel said the planning commission felt that putting Elm Street through from Lawrence Street to Eleventh Street would alleviate traffic concerns on Lawrence Street, specifically the intersection of Lawrence Street and US56 Highway, and provide for safer foot and bicycle traffic to the two schools and the ball field complex. In addition, Trendel said the planning commission felt that Elm Street should ultimately be improved to Tenth Street to handle the traffic, although the recommendation from the commission’s February 10 meeting was limited to improving Elm Street through its intersection with Eleventh Street. Councilmember Wagner asked where the school was in the construction process and how they met with the planning process. Dorathy said they planned to go have a lot to present to the planning commission at its March 10 meeting, and hoped to go to bid by April on some of the projects, specifically the ball fields.


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago

Also, please see the following text from the minutes of the Baldwin City Council on July 20, 2009:

Mayor Wagner presented for consideration Resolution No. 2009-09 regarding the Governing Body’s position on recommendations and actions surrounding the road projects associated with the USD 348 construction projects. Councilmember Bayer moved to approve Resolution No. 2009-09. Councilmember Plumberg seconded the motion. Councilmember Brecheisen questioned what passing the ordinance would accomplish as it did not state who would be paying for the project. Councilmember Bayer said the council wanted to give the planning commission an indication of the will of the governing body as to what would likely be passed when placed in front of them. Councilmember Brecheisen felt the resolution committed the city to funding the items in the future because we so strongly endorsed them. City Administrator Dingman said the resolution is an indicator for the long range plan of the area, regardless of changes on the school board, planning commission or city council. Mayor Wagner said it’s an opportunity for the governing body, as it sits today, to take a position on the desire to have the streets connect, which makes our position clear to USD 348. Councilmember Brecheisen did not feel it was the council’s place to recommend further study of the E1600 Road and US56 Highway intersection or adjusting the speed limit at that corner. Councilmember Magers felt that was the most beneficial portion of the resolution. The motion carried 3-1 with Brecheisen opposed and Councilmember Farmer not yet present.

I believe it is important to establish that the City advised appropriately but was not in a position to control the decisions that were made regarding road improvements at that intersection.

Robin Bayer 203 9th Street 913-645-6666


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago

RESOLUTION NO. 2009 – 09


WHEREAS, The Baldwin City Planning Commission, at its regular meeting on February 10, 2009, heard from the development team of USD 348 regarding the proposed development of ball fields, a primary elementary school, and a road network at the school district’s property on the west edge of Baldwin City; and

WHEREAS, upon consideration of the proposed development, the Planning Commission issued its recommendation that said development should include the construction of the new portion of Bullpup Drive south to Elm Street, and the construction of Elm Street from Lawrence Street east to Eleventh Street, such streets being already platted; and

WHEREAS, in considering its recommendation, the Planning Commission did understand the cost involved in reconstructing the portion of Elm Street from Eleventh Street to the railroad right-of-way, making a railroad crossing, and constructing a new portion of road from the railroad right-of-way to Lawrence Street, but made its recommendation as being in the best interest of planning the development of the USD property and providing a third alternative to connect the development with the body of the city; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission subsequently approved a site plan for the new primary elementary school, affirmatively requiring that Elm Street be constructed from Lawrence Street east to Bullpup Drive, and then Bullpup be extended to Elm Street in conjunction with the current projects; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission reaffirmed their earlier recommendation that the new section of Elm Street be connected to Eleventh Street as part of the long range plan for development on the west side of town; and

WHEREAS, the Planning Commission also requested a traffic study be completed for the area, such study was completed, and questions remain as to the best way to handle the intersection of N1600 Rd and US56 Highway


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the City of Baldwin City, Kansas, that:

Section 1. The Governing Body endorses the Planning Commission’s February, 2009 recommendation that the development plan for the west side of town include building Elm Street to connect Lawrence Street to Eleventh Street.

Section 2. The Governing Body endorses the Planning Commission’s approval of the site plan, requiring that Bullpup Drive be extended south to Elm Street, and Elm Street be constructed from Bullpup Drive west to Lawrence Street as part of the current project to build ball fields and a primary education center on the property.

Section 3. The Governing Body endorses further study of the intersection of N1600 Road and US56 Highway by the city, the county, the school district, and/or KDOT to determine the best way to address safety concerns at the intersection. The Governing Body supports adjusting the rural highway school speed zone to encompass the intersection of N1600 Road and US56 Highway.

ADOPTED and APPROVED by the Governing Body of Baldwin City, Kansas on this 20th day of July, 2009.


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago

Please accept my apologies for the formatting of the Resolution. What was shown in the Preview looked great, but did not carry over to what was actually posted.

Robin Bayer 913-645-6666


khayes 9 years, 8 months ago

How peculiar, while being involved in numerous commercial and residential developments in a lot of different cities the Developer not the city/county had to pony up and pay for the impact on the infrastructure including the streets. But in this case the school is getting KDOT the county, and the city of Baldwin to pay for the intersection improvements made. i am in awe of this whole decision making process since while this bond issue (which I voted against) for schools and ball fields was being expended why was Elm street not punched thru to 11th? Wouldnt it have made sense to put in the infrastructure to deal with this increased load BEFORE the school and fields were opened? My position will seem anti-school and anti-safety but I am not in favor of city dollars being expended outside the boundaries on this project. The school district should have...and still should step up to the plate and pay for the road extention that is onto the school property.


Stacy Napier 9 years, 8 months ago

I was at the some of the meetings Robin posted minutes of. The school district didn't even want to put Elm thru to Bullpup. It was all about cost. Supt. Dorathy said then that they didn't have money for the extension from Bullpup to 11th. That is why Resolution 2009-09 reads that way.

It boils down to the fact that the district would have to scale down the sports improvements to make the road. This communitity just didn't want to do that.

11th really isn't the issue (sure it would make it convient) but they should have been made to do something for one of the roads.

The city should have just said "no" to the current plan but no one had the cojones.


BaldwinDad 9 years, 8 months ago

I disagree...I don't think it was a the community as a whole but rather certain members on the School Board and a poor example of a Administrator that can't deal with what is best for the students versus what is best for his job.

A lot of the families now becoming more informed and see how poorly managed this district has been over the last 4 years.


TheOnlyGreyghost 9 years, 8 months ago

This line "When the school district was in the planning process of building the school, neither KDOT nor consultants who did a traffic study anticipated problems with the intersection, Dorathy said," sums up the usual head-in-the-sand condition of both Baldwin City and KDOT. Classic.

Anyone capable of higher thought processes knew that there would be problems with this spot if a turn lane were not put in. These are the same KDOT geniuses who, a number years ago, decided to RAISE the speed limit (from 45 to 55) on 59 Highway through Baldwin Junction, resulting in several (predictable!) fatalities at that intersection, which, in turn, led to the 4-way stop they should've put there in the first place.

And, speaking of dedicated left-turn lanes, they really should have extended the one on 56 between the stop light and 10th St. If you're heading west, you invariably have to come to a complete standstill as someone (who could probably turn a block or two earlier, where there IS a left turn lane) decides to stop a whole line of cars so they can turn left onto 11th.

Especially around 8 a.m. or 3:15 p.m., when kids are being dropped off or picked up, this can often take long enough to ensure that a lengthy string of cars is sitting there waiting for the one person turning onto 11th from 56. How hard would it have been, since they have the left turn lane most of the way through that stretch, to have extended it just past 11th Street to improve traffic flow? More excellent planning.


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago


I am not a traffic engineer but I think that the narrow bridge right on the other side of 11th precluded the turn lane extension to 11th that you describe. It is a great idea but it seems to me that the lane narrowing and shouldering required to do this wouldn't be feasible in the westbound run-up to the bridge.

The good news is that when that bridge is replaced in 2013 it will be engineered for at least three lanes, which should provide the necessary space for either narrowing the road or continuing the third lane across the bridge. This was the best information available at the time that I discussed this with Earl Bosak (our KDOT engineer) when KDOT provided an overview of their US 56 Corridor Management Plan last year.

Robin Bayer 913-645-6666


ksrush 9 years, 8 months ago

Ghost - Bravo, your comments are on the money ( in more ways than one ) . More impressive you stay on the subject and dont drag the 11th street / Bullpup Lane issue into the discussion. It's clear and focused thought like this that would put Baldwin far ahead of where it is today.


greyghost 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Ken Hayes. This is the district (most of the southern half of the county) skating out of their incidental development costs.

Bayer is in favor of the city putting up money for this project (that is not in city limits) .... what a failure.

Also, look for Robbin' Robin to try to get the city to pay for more school projects when he is on the school board. Seriously, look for it!


robinbayer 9 years, 8 months ago


I voted to allow City Administrator Dingman to submit a joint bid with Douglas County for the project to improve the intersection in conjunction with the KDOT Corridor Management Plan as was adopted by the City of Baldwin. My reasoning was that it was indeed unfortunate that this issue could not have been handled at the time of planning for the new school; however, the reality of the situation was that no one affiliated with the City (staff, Mayor, or Council) could control the decisions made about the US56 and Lawrence Ave. intersection. The City Council passed a resolution in the summer of 2009 that highly encouraged future study of the intersection, because it seemed obvious to us that the new school would considerably increase traffic (and traffic problems) at the intersection.

When an opportunity appeared for approximately 90% of the funding to correct the situation would be provided by the State, and 60% of the remainder would be provided by the County, several of us on the Council strongly felt that it was the best deal we could hope to get to address a known problem. Yes it is currently outside the City limits, but that will not be the case forever. At the point that the City were to annex land to the west it would immediately become a problem that the City would have to address.

The two Council members that opposed entering into an agreement made very good points that the money we would spend on a project outside the City limits could be used for things like the Elm Street bridge replacement (now a very pressing matter). I think it's safe to characterize the discussions as "vigorous debate". I felt strongly that it was "gut check" time and we did not want to miss the opportunity for a huge portion of the project to be funded by a wider tax base than just Baldwin City taxpayers.

I have consistently advocated for costs to be as closely mapped to the usage of their constituents as possible (and the tax bases that support those constituents). As an example I did not believe that the City should subsidize the cost of the electricity to run the lights at the USD 348 athletic fields. It made more sense to have a wider tax base pick up those costs because the benefits accrued to the District as a whole.

Robin Bayer 203 9th Street


Slade 9 years, 8 months ago

KCMO doesn't do a whole lot of things right--we all know that. One thing they do that is effective in terms of traffic management is placing signs restricting traffic flow during peak periods.

I think all parties involved here could spring for a sign reading "No Left Turn 7-4, M-F" or "7-9am, 2-4pm, M-F" approaching Lawrence Avenue from town. I live on E1600 (same road), and I'll be the first to happily volunteer to obey a simple traffic directive. This isn't even about convenience here--it's common sense.

There's already a dedicated turn lane to access those schools on Bullpup. Here's an idea--put aside an extra minute and a half of your day, and use the turn lane we already have. Those new streets at least have sidewalks for the kids. We've got to start being sensible around here. Pay for these other improvements when the money is actually available.

Why do we lack the ability to make the best of a situation that solves itself? We're facing some issues that actually matter around here, and I feel we're still missing the point.


khayes 9 years, 8 months ago

If you would like some further examples of "skating" by the school district in the past I have some real Doozies for you.

  1. The water tower located on the school property would be the first. The school board at the time thought it was ugly and didnt want it placed at the crest of the hill so the council decided to move it down the hill which meant the tower had to be constructed about 20 feet taller. Resulting cost to the city was around $75.000.00. Watertowers have to be built in a gravity system at the same level otherwise they dont provide even pressure. I fought this hard because it was dumb...a water tower is ugly...sorry cant change that...but I lost.

  2. The original design of the school property called for Elm to go thru to Lawrence avenue and the entrance from the highway was not in the plan. It was added as a "cheap" way to get traffic to the first school building and the promise was made that when the other one was built it would be added. Second school was built. City got the short end of the stick again...and here we are...pouring money into the "cheap" alternative that no longer looks so cheap.

  3. And this one is my favorite, in 2003 the school district tried to renege due to budget problems of paying for the SRO police officer. The deal was that the school board would pay this position during the school year and the city would pay for the rest of the time, training, equipment etc. I personally attended the school board meeting to "collect" the money...felt like a bill collector trying to get the 30+K they had signed contracts to pay.

This school board over the past 10 years has not been a good civic partner in this community, has spent money like pouring water on the ground, and now is in huge financial trouble. We need leaders that are going to think things thru, generate a plan..and stick to it. Not make decisions that are the cheap way to go at the moment that end up costing us a fortune later on. Ken Hayes


BaldwinDad 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Ken on this one and from the looks of it by adding Robin to the staff it will NOT improve.

The city should have nothing to do with this project this is one of those let the constituents deal with it till their so mad they start asking why, rather then stepping in now and dealing with it so to cover up the mistakes of a poorly run and managed school district.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.