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Archive for Friday, June 24, 2011

Advisers begin K-10 cable barrier study

June 24, 2011

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— Nearly two hours into a meeting discussing the safety of Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, Carie Lawrence looked up from a map of dots that had depicted points of fatality accidents that had occurred across the state.

“These people were all loved and cared for and missed,” said Lawrence, of Overland Park, whose 5-year-old grandson Cainan Shutt of Eudora died in an April 16 crash on K-10 near Eudora. “Every number has a name. I don’t want that to get forgotten as we go to these meetings.”

Nineteen members of the group met Thursday at the Eudora Community Center to examine the highway’s safety after the April double fatality and the Kansas Department of Transportation’s policy on placing cable median barriers on four-lane highways.

Cainan Shutt’s family, Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson and members of a Facebook group have urged the state to install the cable median barrier between Lawrence and Interstate 435 in Johnson County. The group was formed under a directive from Gov. Sam Brownback after Hopson wrote him a letter.

Initial meeting

Representatives from along the corridor included residents, law enforcement and city and county government officials. Clay Adams, KDOT’s northeast Kansas district engineer, and Hopson were selected as co-chairmen.

Most of Thursday’s discussion centered on the number of cross-median fatality crashes that have occurred on K-10. Cainan Shutt died in the April 16 crash. An eastbound Toyota Camry driven by 24-year-old Ryan Pittman of Eudora crossed over the median and collided head-on with the minivan Cainan was riding in with his grandparents and 2-year-old sister, Courtlynn, who was also injured.

According to KDOT statistics provided at the meeting, 1,246 total accidents occurred from 2006 to 2010 on K-10 resulting in nine deaths. Of those, 35 have involved vehicles crossing the median resulting in five deaths. Statewide, 104 people have died in 89 fatal cross-median crashes from 2000 to 2010.

Some group members said that K-10 had become dangerous because of the high speeds, distracted drivers and the number of cross-median crashes, and that KDOT’s policy should focus more on preventing fatalities and give less weight to crashes where no one is injured.

“We can repair and replace cars all day long, but when somebody goes over in a fatality accident, you can’t replace that,” said Johnson County Commissioner Jim Allen, of Shawnee, who also works in the insurance business.

Allen said the state should also likely focus on trying to save drivers who are in the correct lane during a cross-median crash.

KDOT officials have said the issue still merits study because cable barriers are “not benign” and still cause damage, like in crashes where drivers might have been able to regain control in a wider median. Adams said it’s estimated 1 in 40 cable barrier crashes involve a fatality or serious injury.

KDOT officials have also asked the group to develop a way to assess how it justifies when to install a cable median barrier on a state highway.

“I come to these meetings very open. I come to this process to as very open-minded. There are some people in KDOT who would just flat say we’re not going to put a barrier up,” Adams said. “I just want you to know I’m not one of those.”

Future study

Group members, including Lawrence Public Works Director Chuck Soules and Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, mostly asked for more information for future meetings, such as specific details on what caused each cross-median fatality crash.

KDOT has already announced this year it will widen the shoulders and add rumble strips to K-10 in Douglas County to match the Johnson County section of the road. Hopson asked if the estimated $3.2 million cost of that project could instead be saved for a potential cable median construction, but Adams said the rumble strip project is part of repairing the surface of K-10 travel lanes.

“We couldn’t have taken that money and put it toward the cable. We needed to spend it there,” Adams said.

KDOT estimates it would cost $200,000 per mile to install a cable median barrier.

Members of the group scheduled their next meeting for July 14 when Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor who has helped KDOT study cable median barriers, is scheduled to give a presentation. Hopson said group members would meet monthly for five months so they could give a recommendation to KDOT in November.

KDOT would make the final decision about any improvements or changes to the highway.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 9 months ago

Kevin Anderson, it's a great photo to go with the accompanying article, especially on the Internet. Can you say a little more about where it was taken? Along Highway 10?

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storm 2 years, 9 months ago

I think cables placed around Eudora will help protect the city from tornados.

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 9 months ago

Real safety comes from measures that cut in to profit and convenience There are a lot let less expensive ways to save thousands more lives than cable barriers. No matter how much it hurts to loose a 5 years old, it does not change that truth. There is no inexpensive way to lessen the risk to the innocent from the stupid. There is no inexpensive way to educate or weed out stupid without sacrificing convenience and profits. Profits & convenience comes before the innocent.

You want to be safer on the road, then agree to having to take the driving test every 3 years instead of every 6. Make it closed book with about 20 extra questions (some of them physics questions), lets not forget a drug test (urine & blood) too.

My wife wanted to take our 3 year old to drive to OP and pick up our boys from their grandma's house. I wouldn't let her, no reason to take any extra risk for 5 Mins with grandma, when she saw her the day before. If there were cable barriers I still would have made that judgment. My wife is an excellent driver, it is just a law of averages.

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kansasdaughter 2 years, 9 months ago

angel4dennis, seriously, learn more about the changes in the speed limits...(it doesn't change the speed limit on K-10.)

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engagedecoy 2 years, 9 months ago

Instead of paying 200k per mile to string some cable barriers, How about we drop the speed 5MPH and increase officer radar traps on K-10. How about we use our officers to protect people instead of wasting time looking for pot smokers or something stupid like that.

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angel4dennis 2 years, 9 months ago

They raised the speed limit so seriously at this point would barriers even help?

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Kontum1972 2 years, 9 months ago

both hands on the wheel no cooking or texting...

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, a strip of cornstalks will stop a car traveling at 70mph! (eye roll)

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senegal66025 2 years, 9 months ago

Slow down might be a good idea. I set my cruise on 70 and get passed all the time.

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kansasdaughter 2 years, 9 months ago

Those crosses are a distraction, take them down.

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PaladKik 2 years, 9 months ago

Corn in the spring and winter wheat would work as well as cable. Long brome grass is a green barrier that will save lives.

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Keith Richards 2 years, 9 months ago

How about we pay for a predator drone to be constantly in the air. At first sight of a crossover they simply fire a missile at the vehicle and take it out.

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clarkentsman 2 years, 9 months ago

With the volume of traffic on K-10 the road needs to be modified/rebuilt similar to the Turnpike between Lawrence and Topeka. But instead of $5m it would be$50m. If you want to make it a toll road that would be OK, just add another $5m. Then the people who use the road would help pay for it.

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hujiko 2 years, 9 months ago

Cable barriers do not prevent accidents, and do not always arrest a vehicle before crossing over into oncoming traffic. Until we eliminate the inattentive, distracted, incompetent, and inebriated drivers from the roads, more fatalities will continue to occur whether or not a cable barrier is in place.

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TheStonesSuck 2 years, 9 months ago

$200 grand per mile? We need ta have a house meetin' y'all.

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