County Road 1061
Drivers on County Road 1061 south of Eudora feel comfortable cruising above the posted speed limit of 55 mph.
The road is too hilly and otherwise inappropriate for such speedy travel, according to county engineers, who recommend reducing the speed limit along a three-mile-long stretch of the road to 45 mph and posting advisory signs to take speed down even farther, to 40 mph in some sections.
The plan is up for review Wednesday night.
“The very alignment — the hills, the sags and crests — don’t really allow for enough stopping distance for cars going 55,” said Keith Browning, country engineer and director of public works. “We do think it needs to be reduced, but this is kind of an interesting case.”
By interesting, Browning is referring to some contradictory facts of the case.
Turns out about 2,200 vehicles make the trip each day along County Road 1061, between North 300 and North 600 roads, making it a busy path of travel, he said. The area is south of Eudora, and northeast of Baldwin City; North 300 Road is a mile north of U.S. Highway 56.
And many of the drivers apparently don’t feel like they need to slow down to stay safe, Browning said.
“Typically engineers measure the 85th percentile of drivers, with the theory that most people are reasonable and prudent and will drive at a reasonable speed,” Browning said, discussing traffic counts conducted along the road in March. “In this case, the 85th percentile speed is 59 (mph), which indicates that 55 (mph) should be fine. But after taking a detailed look at the road’s geometry, we just do not feel that’s an appropriate speed.”
Turns out there are too many driveways that empty out onto the road, just after hills, he said. And there aren’t adequate shoulders to handle vehicles that need to make quick moves to avoid hitting a car that’s pulling out, or a pedestrian walking across the street to get mail.
In all, 21 property owners in the area wrote in to county officials, asking for the speed limit to be reduced. They cited all kinds of problems: accidents both seen and experienced firsthand; worries about children boarding school buses; an increased presence of large trucks using the road; cyclists using the road; drivers described as “hill jumpers” driving through the area; and risks taken on by employees of the U.S. Postal Services, UPS, FedEx and others who need to make frequent roadside stops in an area where driver visibility — coupled with relatively high rates of speed — have led to plenty of close calls.
“We know this stretch better than anyone as we live and drive it daily,” said Tricia Crowe, in her letter delivered to county officials with signatures seeking the reduced speed limit. “It is dangerous. Many have had accidents and there are daily ‘close calls.’ This decrease would help in the safety of the residents of this stretch.”
From 2003 through the end of 2009, there had been 24 accidents along the stretch of road, said Terese Gorman, the county’s engineering division manager.
Commissioners are scheduled to consider the request from neighbors, and the resulting recommendation from Browning, during their regular weekly meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.