Baldwin City to ask KDOT to upgrade crosswalk signal

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October 6, 2015

After more consideration, Baldwin City will ask the Kansas Department of Transportation to upgrade the caution light at the U.S. Highway 56/Eighth Street crosswalk.

In August, Baldwin City Councilman Dave Simmons told his fellow council members that the public safety subcommittee he heads would ask KDOT for recommendations on how to improve safety at the crosswalk, now controlled by two push-button yellow flashing lights on each side of the highway. That decision was made out of concern that more school children will use the crosswalk with the completion of the mixed-use trail from Eleventh Street to the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center.

On Monday, Simmons said it has been decided to seek permission from KDOT to install to overhead red lights to stop traffic when pedestrians are in the crosswalk. There was little chance KDOT would approve a regular traffic signal at the intersection only two blocks from the traffic control light on U.S. 56 at the Sixth Street intersection, he said. The three accidents recorded this year at the highway’s Eighth Street intersect would not justify a full traffic control light either, he said

Changes are being made to parking near Liston Stadium as a result of the public safety committee’s recommendations, Simmons said.

Baldwin City Police Chief Greg Neis measured the width of Hillside Drive and determined it was narrow enough to allow him to go forward with banning parking on the south side of that street at the curve to the east of First Street without council action, Simmons said.

Meanwhile, additional no parking signs will be placed on First and Second streets north of High Street to the highway. No parking signs will also be installed on the south side of Elm Street between Second and Fourth streets.

In other business, the council:

• Set a date of Monday to meet with Patti Gentrup of Novak Group to begin the search for a new city administrator. Mayor Marilyn Pearse said Gentrup was hired as the recruiter for the search for $17,000. The goal is to have a new city administrator hired and working by the first of the year, the mayor said.

• Authorized a bond sale of $3.275 million to be used to upgrade and extend the city’s sewer utility. The bond money will be used to make $500,000 in needed improvements at the sewer plant, install the $175,000 sewer line to the industrial park and construct a $2.5 million interceptor to increase sewer capacity on the city’s east side. The council agreed to go forward with the package last month.

• Approved a debt management policy for the city with the goal of improving the city’s bond rating. Interim City Administrator Brad Smith said the gist of the policy was “use bonds when it makes sense.” The policy does ban the city from structuring bonded debt that requires a large, final balloon payment and gives the council’s financial subcommittee more oversight responsibilities.

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