Archive for Saturday, August 5, 2006

Stop signs at junction delayed

Attorney: Rumble strips needed first

August 5, 2006

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workers with the Kansas Department of Transportation set up stop signs and flashing lights at Baldwin Junction, although the new signals were taken down about an hour later. Rumble strips must be installed before the signs can be used. They worked Friday near a roadside memorial for two young women recently killed at the intersection of U.S. highways 56 and 59.

workers with the Kansas Department of Transportation set up stop signs and flashing lights at Baldwin Junction, although the new signals were taken down about an hour later. Rumble strips must be installed before the signs can be used. They worked Friday near a roadside memorial for two young women recently killed at the intersection of U.S. highways 56 and 59.

The Baldwin Junction 10 miles south of Lawrence was a four-way stop for about an hour Friday afternoon.

Then, Kansas Department of Transportation workers covered the signs and lights they had installed on U.S. Highway 59. Area engineer Earl Bosak had received a warning from KDOT's legal division not to change the intersection until a crew could install rumble strips on U.S. 59.

"We have to get the machine (to create rumble strips) and it's over in Osage City," Bosak said at 4:15 p.m. "It would be dark before we got it here, and we don't want to work in the dark."

Until Monday, the intersection - where three people have died this year as a result of accidents - will remain a two-way stop for drivers traveling across U.S. Highway 56.

KDOT attorneys feared the state would be liable if another accident occurred at the intersection without the rumble strips in place, Bosak said. The crew would likely make the changes and transform the notorious intersection to a four-way stop on Monday, he said.

The stop sign installation happened just days after Charlene Pohl, 84, of Baldwin, died after she was in an accident there on Tuesday.

Two Spring Hill teens died after an April 29 crash when they pulled out from U.S. 56 and were hit by a pickup truck, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's office.

In the past few months, several residents had complained about the visibility and speed limit in the intersection, and KDOT agreed to study the intersection again.

On orders from KDOT Secretary Deb Miller, Bosak's crew went to the junction of U.S. 59 and 56 Friday afternoon, soon after they received a shipment of the signs and lights from the manufacturer, Kansas Correctional Industries.

Bosak said the secretary's office had received several calls demanding the four-way stop put in place after Pohl's accident on Tuesday. KDOT announced in early July that the intersection would become a four-way stop sometime between late July and mid-August.

When the work is complete, drivers on U.S. 59 will encounter stop-ahead signs with flashing lights, rumble strips and the stop sign with flashing red lights. When it was set up as a four-way stop Friday, KDOT workers said they saw a couple drivers illegally pass through the intersection in the right lane without stopping because cars on the left lane were turning.

Bosak said the intersection will remain safe through the weekend even with the covered signs.

"It won't be any worse than it was," he said.

Some area drivers said they worried about the 55 mph speed limit in the area and that drivers on U.S. 59 would not catch the change right away.

"I know that there have been a lot of accidents. I'm a little bit nervous about coming this way and people not realizing it's a four-way stop," said Jill Brown, of Baldwin.

"Half the time people don't even stop anyway, they just roll through," said Laura Linder, who lives near Overbrook.

KDOT plans to expand U.S. 59 to a four-lane highway in the next few years between Ottawa and Lawrence.

Bosak said drivers should always be cautious.

"Put down the cell phone, quit drinking coffee and drive like you are supposed to drive," he said.

Intersection of U.S. 59-56

Comments

lunacydetector 11 years, 2 months ago

since when is the state or any municipality liable for anything anyway? i thought they had free reign to do anything they wanted without fear of legal reprisals. for some reason, the excuse sounds like a load. perhaps it was conscience that played a role in waiting for the rumble strips?

mechman 11 years, 2 months ago

how was they going to get the rumble from osage city? horse & buggy???????? HOW LONG DOES IT IAKE TO DRIVE 40 MILES??????

displacedsunflower 11 years, 2 months ago

"... will remain safe through the weekend ..." "It won't be any worse than it was." How can it remain safe, in the current circumstances, when it wasn't safe already???
And, as far as the drivers being careful, they should be careful anywhere that they drive. I don't think that anyone could be more careful than I am when going thru that intersection, and I still had trouble there, what with the limited sight distance looking to the south from Hwy 56, and the 55 miles speed limit (people like to go faster than the limit, which makes it worse). I hope that they lower the limit back to 45 ahead of the rumble strips on 59.

I will feel safer after the stop signs are in, but will still take extra caution at that junction, and everyone else should, also.

nut_case 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't have high hopes that a 4-way stop will be any safer.

I've been rear-ended 7 times so far while simply setting at red lights. Luckily these were all around town so fairly low speed. I also often travel through a 4-way stop near my house. About every 6 months or so there are some fresh skid marks and usually a dash of shattered glass and plastic on the road. And that is in a 35 MPH zone. It wasn't too long ago we had some people killed out on the turnpike:simply stopped to pay the toll and got obliterated by a truck that failed to stop. I guess all those flashing lights, signs, toll plaza and rumble strips are easy to miss?

I'd give it about 6 months before someone is abiding by the ridiculous law, comes to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and gets a Buick enema at 60 mph.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

At what point does the State Government become liable? I think the legal standard is something like "incompetence way above the normal base incompetence of a typical State of Kansas Governemnt Agency" and KDOT should be worried.

Bosak needs to STOP making self serving remarks to reporters, LOOK at the statistics over the last 65 years, and LISTEN to residents in the area. If he would quit drinking coffee and talking he might actually get the job done before another Sebelius voter is killed.

The goal here is not to prevent all accidents, it is to reduce accidents resulting in serious bodily injury and death, something this intersection is notorious for. Slowing traffic and jarring drivers into awareness as they approach this death trap will do that.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

You know, that intersection has had a two-way stop for a very long time. When was the last time someone died because they were given a "Buick enema" at either of those stop signs? One accident at a turnpike toll booth is not a reason for not improving this intersection.

If you have been "rear-ended 7 times" maybe its not everyone elses fault. Have you tried fixing your tail and brake lights, start moving when the light turns green, or quit jumping into lanes ahead of other traffic and slamming on your brakes?

Nonsense 11 years, 2 months ago

Liability if they don't have rumble strips? How about knowing they have a dangerous intersection and they haven't done anything. It would seem that doing something would be better than doing nothing.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 2 months ago

how about a bridge over 59? a little bit overkill, but it would certainly do the trick.

BJ 11 years, 2 months ago

"we don't want to work in the dark"

Enough said.

Shardwurm 11 years, 2 months ago

"how about a bridge over 59? a little bit overkill, but it would certainly do the trick."

How about making it 4 lanes like we've been told they would? Sure, that will take years to get done but as far as I know nothing has moved on that.

A 4-way stop will help but overall you're taking your life into your own hands when you get on that road. I don't drive on it....period. Remember last year when the woman from Baldwin drove right through the stop sign by Zarco and was killed by a cement truck?

Stop signs won't stop the carnage.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 2 months ago

any one going that way tonight for the overbrook derby be careful.

jayhawks71 11 years, 2 months ago

mechman, you seem to forget that it isn't about driving 40 miles, it is about driving 40 miles, AND doing the job. Let them have the evening off. Plus, it can't be very safe for road workers to be out there in the dark with a few portable lights. They might be afraid of the dark too.

goinpostalbear 11 years, 2 months ago

If jayhawks had ever stood on a state highway, they would understand "WHY" KDOT workers don't work at night unless it is an emergency. You stand out there while people are talking on their cell phone, eating their Big Mac, combing their hair, or women putting on makeup. Their attention is not on driving their car. I personnaly know three KDOT employees who have been struck by cars in broad daylight, on flat stretches of road. Also, it takes over an hour to set up the grinder to cut the strips. The distance has to be measured, the separation between them gets measured. Why don't YOU volunteer to help KDOT workers do this just one time and maybe you would appreciate what these people do and what it takes to stand on the highway while you blast by them at 70 mph. A former KDOT Worker!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 2 months ago

We just went through there. People were stopping at the covered stop signs going north/south. We were sure we were going to be rearended.

To the lady that flipped us off because we honked at her being stopped northbound, right back atcha lady. We were just about rearended by a minivan as we sat and waited for you to try to tell everyone else in that intersection (who knew it was not 4-way and couldn't figure out what you were doing) how to drive.

blessed3x 11 years, 2 months ago

The design for Hwy 59 is nearing completion. The last I heard was that they would begin moving dirt sometime late next year. You people need to get a grip. Do you really think it's sensible to build a million dollar bridge with on/off ramps just so they can rip it out in a year? At-grade intersections are notoriously dangerous, especially when they violate driver expectations like a 4-way stop in the middle of a federal route. This situation is even more complicated in that for many drivers the new 4-way stop is unexpected. KDOT did the right thing in waiting until the rumble strips were installed to warn drivers of the change in traffic control. If you want to blame someone, blame the frickin' greenies and libs for fighting against the 59 widening for year upon year and delaying it's construction. A 4-way stop at this location is a BIG mistake and KDOT knows it. They are, however, bowing to pressure from the uninformed masses that are convenienced that a 4-way stop is necessary. What will everyone say when the deaths from the 4-way begin to mount? I wonder.

Sigmund 11 years, 2 months ago

if the deaths are at the same rate as what we have experienced, Ill say I was wrong, otherwise Ill say it was way too long in coming..

dizzy_from_your_spin 11 years, 2 months ago

Why doesn't Sebelius do something about this?

There with a pick and shovel, wearing a hardhat, would at least show Kathy cares about us (and make another GREAT photo-op).

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