KDOT approves crosswalk studies for funding consideration
The Kansas Department of Transportation will consider grant funding for safety studies at two crosswalks, the Baldwin City Council learned Monday
City public works Director Bill Winegar shared a letter with the council from KDOT stating traffic evaluations for the Kansas Highway 56/Fourth Street and Sixth Street/Firetree Avenue intersections qualify for the department’s Traffic Engineering Assistance Program and were added to the list of those to be considered in the current grant cycle. Should there not be enough money to fund the studies in that distribution, the projects would be considered again in the department’s next funding cycle, the letter states.
The city’s efforts to make safety improvements at the crosswalks, particularly the one on U.S. 56, gained visibility when Shai Jackson carried a petition in September asking the city to support a light at the site after she was ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian waiting to cross the highway.
Winegar said had already had talked with engineers about the studies. He said he would delay having engineers conduct traffic counts at the intersections until spring so that they won’t reflect a low number of young pedestrians on cold or snowy days when parents drove them to school.
Councilwoman Christie Darnell, chair of the council’s public works committee, said the Baldwin school district would be approached about the possibility of having volunteer crossing guards posted at the crosswalks before and after school.
Meanwhile, the faded white stripping at the crosswalks has been replaced with more noticeable reflexive thermoplastic markings. With that, the city placed construction flags in the crosswalk signposts to make them more noticeable, City Administrator Chris Lowe said.
“We’re working the short-term solutions until we get a long-term one,” he said.
In other business, the council:
• Heard from two officials with Mediacom, a cable TV, phone and Internet service provider in Baldwin City, during a continued public hearing on the proposal to issue up to $5 million in industrial revenue bonds to Dawn Fiber LLC. The bonds would finance the company’s plan to bring gigabit fiber optics to the city.
Mediacom district operations manager Bryan Gann said the company plans to upgrade the current 15-megabit capacity Internet it offers in the community to 105-megabit capacity soon.
Bill Peard, a government affairs officer with the company, posed a number of questions about the proposal, such as whether Dawn Fiber planned to offer video and phone services as well as Internet, and, if so, whether its financial planning included competition from other providers for those services.
In response, Mike Bosch, one of Dawn Fiber’s three founders, said Mediacom had a history of stoking fears. He added that in addition to Internet speed, the proposal was about a local company being accountable for providing reliable service to the community.
The public hearing was recessed and will continue at the council’s Dec. 2 meeting. Dawn Fiber will be required to share details of its proposal before the Council gives final approval of the bond agreement, including a cost-benefit analysis justifying abatements of property and sales taxes.
• Received a report on the 2013 season at the Baldwin City swimming pool from Manager Tammy Michael, showing its revenues of $88,912, including a $38,500 city subsidy, exceeded its expenses of $86,844. The report shows the pool’s attendance of 19,888 dipped from the 23,842 who visited the pool during the much hotter summer of 2012.