A dangerous section of Kansas Highway 10 near the East Hills Business Park is set to get a new set of "eyes" constantly on the lookout for potential accidents.
The Kansas Department of Transportation plans to use the section of road east of Lawrence to test a new flashing beacon system that will warn motorists when a vehicle is entering or leaving the East Hills Business Park.
The beacons will be connected to cameras that monitor traffic entering and leaving the business park's main entrance onto K-10. The beacons - which will be on signs about 750 feet on either side of the entrance - will only flash when a vehicle is leaving or entering.
"We'll see how it works," said Chuck Soules, the city's director of public works. "We definitely need something to wake people up. We need something to grab their attention and make them realize that they are getting into some congestion."
The entrance has been the site of several accidents over the years when slow-moving traffic entering or leaving the business park collides with high-speed traffic.
A definite schedule hasn't been set for the project, but it could happen this summer, Soules said. The project would cost $20,000 to $30,000, and is expected to be paid for entirely with state funds.
Reaction to the idea was mixed from people who frequently use the entrance. Kirsten Krug, human resources manager at Amarr Garage Doors in the business park, said she thought the devices had a chance to help.
"It could really heighten the awareness," Krug said. "It could be the only thing we have to do, or it could just be the first thing we do. But it definitely seems like it is a step in the right direction."
Steve Glass, president of nearby LRM Industries, said he was appreciative of the project but wasn't sure how much it would improve the situation.
"I think it will have some potential benefit," Glass said. "My concerns are people tend to ignore a lot of these warning signals."
Soules also has mixed emotions about the project. That's because the city had hoped to be awarded state grant money to construct a new entrance for the park at Franklin Road, which is about a half-mile west of the current entrance. But Soules said the city recently was notified its $1.8 million grant application was not selected.
Soules said he had been hopeful the city project would be funded because the state committee had asked the city if it would be willing to accept only partial funding of the project.
"I told them that if they gave us anything it would be more than we have now, and that we would make something good happen with it," Soules said. "I had the impression we were looking good."
The grant project was highly competitive. The state received requests for $22 million worth of projects in northeast Kansas but only had $2 million to award.