Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Wreck latest sign of junction dangers

August 2, 2006


Another serious wreck Tuesday at Baldwin Junction left nearby residents and workers frustrated by the lack of progress toward making the notoriously dangerous intersection safer.

"This is the second helicopter (ambulance) in two weeks," said J.T. Schwalm, who works at nearby Hansen's Used Cars. "They have to do something."

The wreck occurred about noon Tuesday, when 84-year-old Charlene E. Pohl, Baldwin, pulled into the intersection of U.S. highways 56 and 59 after failing to completely stop at the westbound U.S. 56 stop sign, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report and officers on the scene.

A semitrailer, driving north on U.S. 59 through the intersection, struck Pohl's Buick sedan, sending it twisting into a nearby ditch. The truck owned by Penny's Concrete Inc. was driven by Justin Huddleston, 28, of Baldwin. He was not injured.Early reports from witnesses described Pohl's condition as grave. She was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. A spokesperson for the hospital said she was no longer there Tuesday night.

Emergency crews inspect a car that was involved in a wreck at Baldwin Junction, the intersection of U.S. highways 56 and 59. The car's driver was taken to a Kansas City, Mo., hospital but was no longer there Tuesday night, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Emergency crews inspect a car that was involved in a wreck at Baldwin Junction, the intersection of U.S. highways 56 and 59. The car's driver was taken to a Kansas City, Mo., hospital but was no longer there Tuesday night, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Weeks ago, the Kansas Department of Transportation promised to create a four-way stop at the intersection and add rumble strips to U.S. 59 after residents and officials raised concerns about conditions. Vehicles on U.S. 59 currently do not stop at the intersection.

The intersection has been the site of several wrecks during the past few years.

Between 2002 and 2005, 36 accidents occurred at the junction. A majority of those incidents - including Tuesday's wreck and an April 29 accident that left two Spring Hill teens dead - involved U.S. 56 drivers pulling in front of U.S. 59 traffic traveling at high speeds, officials said at the time.

On July 24, a man on a motorcycle lost control near the intersection. He was evacuated by helicopter but survived the accident.

In mid-July, state officials said work to change the intersection would begin in late July or early August.

Baldwin City Administrator Jeff Dingman said that he hadn't heard from the state since it promised the work.

"They told us those things were going up," Dingman said.

Intersection of U.S. 59-56

Stan Whitley, an information specialist with KDOT, said the new stop signs would be in place once they arrive from the manufacturer, Kansas Correctional Industries.

"When the signs do come, we'll get those up. Within the next couple of weeks we'll get those installed out there," Whitley said.

But Lt. Keith Hudson from the Kansas Highway Patrol said he thought the intersection was OK as is.

"I don't think it's an unsafe intersection," Hudson said. "At this wreck, we had the proper equipment in place."


joshs_mom 11 years, 8 months ago

I, for one, would not have a problem myself taking a driving test every year or two after age 65. However, there's plenty of people younger than that age that shouldn't be on the road. The guy that hit me about three years age had a suspended license.

rtwngr 11 years, 8 months ago

Lt. Keith Hudson is not clueless. The people that are clueless are the ones that do not come to a complete stop and look both ways on Hwy 56.

Jeteras 11 years, 8 months ago

Believe me, you think just making it a 4-way stop is going to make it safer?? Better think again. There will still be accidents because now you are putting trust into each driver that oncoming traffic is going to stop. There needs to be a few options evaluated before you just stick up a 4-way stop. I do this for a living... look at this site. This intersection is a pretty extreme case. I am glad that I am not the one making the decision!


Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 8 months ago

shame just a shame. Well at least if there is a 4 way stop the traffic will be going slower. just a shame.

theDudeAbides 11 years, 8 months ago

A 4way may decrease speed for the majority of traffic, but as Jeteras stated; you are now putting trust into people from all 4 directions.

That intersection would not be unsafe, if motorist from 56 would make a complete stop and not pull out in front of oncoming traffic.

Lights, 4 way stops, etc. may help, but "You can't fix stupid"

GOPConservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Weeks ago, the Kansas Department of Transportation promised to create a four-way stop at the intersection and add rumble strips

So what is KDOT waiting for? It would take less than a day to put up two more stop signs and rumble strips.

Rumble strips work. They cause drivers to wake up and see the stop sign.

If KDOT had gone out the next day to do what they said they were going to do, those two accidents would not have occurred.

Is it bureaucratic incompetence, or is KDOT playing politics again? Do they want to continue to encourage accidents in order to obtain more support for their new highway? I hope not. I'd like to think it is incompetence, but that's bad enough!

Angel Gillaspie 11 years, 8 months ago

What about widening the intersection and putting in a turn lane? Perhaps posting a police officer during peak hours to hand out citations to those who do not come to a complete stop would help? I must admit that I do not travel in that direction very often, and can't really visualize the intersection at the moment, but surely there are "Cross Traffic Does Not Stop" signs. Maybe even a flashing "caution" light would help. It is certain, though, IMHO, something definitely needs to be done.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 8 months ago

I think the main issue here is that the state promised to make the changes, yet hasn't done so yet. What are they waiting for? Oh, yeah, the signs are coming from Kansas Correctional Industries. Don't we have enough inmates to finish them in a timely manner?

How the hell long does it take to make a couple of stop signs?

HappyFace 11 years, 8 months ago

Even if you make a complete is extremely hard to pull out or cross 59 there. I think that enough people have been hurt or killed there. They need a traffic light there!!! :)

joshs_mom 11 years, 8 months ago

I don't mean to be insensitive but the Topeka paper is reporting Ms. Pohl passed away due to her injuries.

sandrat7 11 years, 8 months ago

bialystocknbloom- there used to be a 4 way flashing light there, just as you described. I don't know why they don't put it back. It at least catches one's attention....makes one realize there's a possibility of another vehicle comin' out.

mom_of_three 11 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the info. I don't think you are being insensitive - that job has been left to others.

DeeK 11 years, 8 months ago

when the sign says stop, Then stop!!! It WILL save you life!

Confrontation 11 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the real issue is that an 84-year-old was driving. There needs to be a stronger set of rules for elderly drivers. I know that younger people can drive bad, as well.

iwasthere 11 years, 8 months ago

I followed the guy in the truck that hit the lady from Ottawa, he was carrying a large heavy load and kept slowing down and speeding up, he was in a rock curry truck. We actully tried to pass him. I belive that the lady in the buick misjuged how fast he was going, because of the load he was carrying and the hill that pops up right as you come on to the junction. It was a surreal deal, and I will never forget what happened and what I witnessed. I still have anxity from the wreck I was in on 59 closer to lawrence. Nothing fatal, thank God. I wish they would open up the intersection and have turning lanes and flashing yellow lights, something, too many lives have been hurt or taken.

LisaYoung77 11 years, 8 months ago

Listen I travel that road between Ottawa and Lawrence daily and so many times I've watched may people go around the people who are turning across traffic. And I almost been hit at Wells Overlook turn off when I've been waved on by someone south bound who lets me turn. Other motorist think that the turning lane is another lane for the to go around the waiting cars. This is even when they are the 4th or 5th in line to the intersection. This scares me badly. Someone else will die trusting a mototist to follow the law. Hopefully it will not be anyone from my family or myself. There are 3 major intersetions Baldwin Junction, Zarco, and Wells Overlook. More patroling at these intersection during rush times may save more people. This should be considered reckless driving.

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