The Lawrence Traffic Safety Commission on Monday will consider whether the city should remove stop signs at an intersection where a young boy was killed while walking home from school in 1981.
The commission will look at removing the stop signs on Kasold Drive at Eighth Street following a request by John Webb, a former traffic commissioner. Webb served on the commission when 7-year-old Benjamin B. Bjorge was struck by a car driving south on Kasold on Nov. 30, 1981. The boy died the next day from injuries he suffered in the accident.
The city has taken another step to ensure the safety of schoolchildren crossing Kasold. After an October 1991 traffic survey showed eight children crossing at the intersection, the traffic commission recommended a crossing guard for the Harvard and Kasold intersection about three blocks south of the Eighth and Kasold intersection.
THE LAWRENCE City Commission agreed to fund the crossing guard position in its 1993 budget.
Webb said today that he felt the stop signs' installation probably "was not a good idea" from the standpoint of traffic safety. He said Kasold is an arterial street intended "to safely and expeditiously move traffic" through the city. The stop signs do not allow Kasold to serve the purpose of an arterial street, he said.
"I know how this town does things. Stop signs continue to go up, but they never reconsider taking anything down," he said. "I think it's something they need to consider the positive and the negative effects of what those signs are doing at that location."
AFTER RECEIVING Webb's letter, the commission conducted a 24-hour traffic count on June 17 at the intersection. The vehicle count showed 7,908 northbound on Kasold; 6,663 southbound on Kasold; and 850 westbound on Eighth Street for a total of 15,421 vehicles.
The Eighth Street count is the key traffic volume concerning the issue. A city traffic staff report said that at least 200 vehicles per hour were needed on Eighth Street to merit the stop signs. The largest traffic volume on the street was 88 vehicles from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
"An accident like that doesn't create a warrant for a stop sign," said Terese Gorman, city traffic engineer.
The staff report also noted there were six traffic accidents at the intersection from 1984 through July 1991.
Nancy Bjorge, the mother of the boy who was killed in the accident, said she did not consider the stop signs as a "nuisance" when she drives the road. She said stop signs or a crossing guard should be at the intersection.
"It is a busy street, and people have the tendency to go right along with the flow," she said. "For adult pedestrians there should be no problem. But for kids what happened to my son certainly, there was a problem."