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Archive for Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vehicles have run off U.S. 59, hit fence on property over 30 times

Setting a cap stone on her fence, Kathy Shuck, Pleasant Grove, has rebuilt her fence some 30 times due to vehicles damaging it.

Setting a cap stone on her fence, Kathy Shuck, Pleasant Grove, has rebuilt her fence some 30 times due to vehicles damaging it.

November 13, 2011

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Ripped-up grass and pieces of shattered plastic are scattered across a patch of Kathy Shuck’s yard. They are the remnants of a crash that occurred four months ago when a driver fell asleep at the wheel, missed a sharp curve and drove off U.S. Highway 59 straight into Shuck’s yard. He took out nearly 100 feet of fence before he stopped upside down in a nearby field.

Right after the accident, Shuck’s Pleasant Grove neighbors began taking bets on just how long the rebuilt fence would stay up. The low bet was 60 days.

The guess doesn’t seem that wild when Shuck tells you her fence has been hit more than 30 times.

“It’s a continuous job,” Shuck said of rebuilding it.

Shuck’s house sits off Highway 59 on a stretch of road that runs from Lawrence to Ottawa. The last home in the hamlet of Pleasant Grove, the home is at the top of a hill, at the start of a significant curve and right before a passing lane ends. Standing in her yard and watching the cars fly by, it’s easy to understand how cars that miss the curve land in Shuck’s yard.

“The accidents I’ve worked there generally involve inattention, speeding or alcohol, and just couple that with that curve,” Douglas County Undersheriff Steve Hornberger said. Shuck attributes most of the accidents to folks going too fast or being too drunk.

“If they just drove the speed limit we wouldn’t have any problems,” she said.

To be fair, Shuck has kept an eye on the fence for the past 60 years. Shuck grew up in the home, but that was when the road was a two-lane highway and not well-traveled.

“When I was young, they never hit the fence. We would put our feet on the fence and watch a car go by every five minutes,” she said.

Over the years that’s changed. What used to be an accident every two years turned into one once a year, and even that number seems to have grown.

She’s had two years in a row where cars came through the fence on Mother’s Day. One time she was planting flowers, heard a loud crash and looked up to see a car that had hit the fence and popped up into the air. It crashed upside down before she could move. When she did get up, Shuck ran to get a hose to help put out a fire that had broken out. Fortunately, a nurse and paramedic stopped to help the woman out of the car.

In the second-to-last accident, Shuck came outside to find a motorcyclist lying alongside the road without a helmet and barely breathing. He was taken away by an air ambulance.

“You never know who they are, and you don’t know what they will do,” Shuck said of the unexpected visitors who barrel through her fence.

But Shuck said she’s lucky if the driver sticks around. A lot of times, they try to flee the scene, leaving behind a broken fence and a costly bill.

Two years ago, Shuck turned a 2-and-a-half-foot-high boulder fence into one made of rock pillars with plastic white pickets in between.

She made sure it was a breakaway fence so when cars hit it, pieces would go flying, decreasing the chances of serious injury. She also designed it so the pieces would be easier to put back together, which she had to do three times since it went up.

“I built it the way it is so I can rebuild it, but I’m getting slower,” Shuck said. Sometimes her children or even the folks who hit the fence help her rebuild.

Despite the burden of rebuilding, Shuck said she doesn’t want to get rid of the fence, mainly because it’s a barricade between her home and the road.

Shuck said her family has talked to the Kansas Department of Transportation about putting up a guardrail. But the state agency told her the guardrail would be too dangerous because it could throw cars back into the flow of traffic.

When KDOT opens the expanded U.S. Highway 59, Shuck hopes traffic will be diverted away from the road that runs by her house. But she has her doubts.

“It is hard to say. A lot of it is drunks. And you figure with the other highway, they are going to stay on this road so they don’t get caught,” she said.

She’s offered law enforcement officers the chance to sit in her yard to nab speeders. The speed limit through Pleasant Grove is posted as 40 miles per hour, but Shuck said most cars go 60.

“All I ask is for drivers to slow down,” she said.

Comments

Starlight 2 years, 5 months ago

READ my link to KDOT regulations. The 40mph sign is ADVISORY, not the speed limit.

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kshuck 2 years, 5 months ago

sorry to inform you but there is an 40mph sign on north and south side of pleasant grove curve so you driving this way all the time need to LOOK at curve sign and 40mph sign under it

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bolshavik_vw 2 years, 5 months ago

Well yeah I agree with him, DUH! There is nothing worse trying to take a picture on a Dirt Road and having some one FLY by, Not caring that they are about to hit people. So they are not dimwits the person that is seeing this being a problem is.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

Wow! tuschkahouma drives hundreds of miles on dirt roads so it can take pictures then gets upset when people stir up dust driving 40 mph taking care of their everyday business. And then calls THEM dimwits . . .

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bolshavik_vw 2 years, 5 months ago

Ok people can drive 5 over. THAT IS NOT ILLEGAL! 6 over is. Ok the Pleasent Grove Hill Sign says" If NOT passing, Keep to Right". OK I am not able to count how many times I have tried to pass everyone in the left lane, and the people who are in the Right Lane are trying to pass me, which is illegal. Also the people do not know how to Merge, once they get at the top of the Hill. They try to run you off the road and do not give any respect to you they fly by and act like they own the road. And if I were that woman. I would go get some type of a Guard Rail or Concrete Barriers, so that if some one is stupid enough to go winging around that curve and sailing into her yard, they will hit a rail or Barrier first and then it will absorb all of the impact instead of her fence or even her house. People think that 59 Hwy is a race track. They do not look out for Construction Zones, Speed right through them, Pass on Double Yellow Lines, or No Passing Zones, the speed limit is 55. They are either going WAY over the speed limit, or crawling at 40. I do not feel bad for those who speed, I feel bad for those who don't go fast enough and get forced off the road, I know a lot of us are looking forward to the New Highway getting done, and once it does, I will take it only once in a while. Not on a normal day for work. I just hope that people realize that driving like an idiot does no one any good. And I would much rather get some where late, than not at all.

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Starlight 2 years, 5 months ago

The speed limit around the curve is 55mph, not 40.

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nut_case 2 years, 5 months ago

“If they just drove the speed limit we wouldn’t have any problems,” she said.

It's thinking like this which is the root of the problem. There are plenty of people out there who don't need to be going anywhere close to the speed limit. Likewise, there are plenty of people who can drive their whole lives 10 or 15 mph over the posted limit and never have a problem.

If changing a law could fix the problem, why not just make it illegal to drive through the fence?

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BlackVelvet 2 years, 5 months ago

Some C-4 on the signs will keep repeat offenders at bay. If they're so stupid as to go above the speed limit we dont need them beathing out air!!!

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Mike Ford 2 years, 5 months ago

I've driven hundreds of miles of dirt roads in Wabaunsee, Coffey, Woodson, Elk, Montgomery, Douglas, Franklin, Osage, Riley, Jefferson, and Leavenworth Counties taking pictures and the people who drive 40 mph down a dirt road creating a dust storm aren't exactly my favorites either. I do see a correllation in behavior though.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

The speed bumps mentioned eariier are a great idea. Why not put them in and solve the problem?

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Mike Ford 2 years, 5 months ago

really....I love dualies with FR tags or rodeo moms in tahoes or suburbans who act like laws don't apply.....passing in no passing lanes or going 10 to 15 over in construction zones on 59.....the jerks are the rural people who tailgate.... homespun courtesy right?????

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The_Original_Bob 2 years, 5 months ago

A well placed round-a-bout should sovle this issue.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 5 months ago

the rural people that act as if speed limits are irrelevent are to blame. I drive this road most days with these dimwits tailgating me as I'm driving 5 over. Maybe if this person wouldn't have supported so many of the deregulating dimwits in the 2010 elections with all of the political signs in her yard there would be more rules to make speeding dimwits behave. Rules.....who needs them.... be an exceptional american and defend your own yard.

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topflight 2 years, 5 months ago

Falling asleep? Yeah sure. I bet that is what they are doing. At that exact point, going up the hill where the curve is. I call that passing out from to much to drink.

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Stuart Evans 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for this story. I've traveled that route for 10 years, and seen many variations of the destruction; I have always wondered about the homeowners perspective.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 5 months ago

One of the reasons the accidents have increased is more traffic, but it's also our lack of drivers ed. When I was young school districts offered drivers ed. Now you have to pay a lot of money to take it, and it's not required. Ever see that young person who won't ease out into the road when making a left turn on a busy street and wait for the yellow light to allow them to clear the intersection? And you have to sit through 3 red lights behind the fool? I'll bet they didn't take drivers ed. I used to work with a young woman, late 20's who was like that until I told her how to do it. She thought cars who pulled out were breaking the law.

The driving in the US has gone downhill since it became harder and more expensive to take drivers ed. Frankly, I think it should be a requirement before you get a license. But the right wingnuts would cry foul, so it would never happen.

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TikiLee 2 years, 5 months ago

I drive that road every day, and one thing I've noticed about the new fence- the decorative lights on the gate look an awful lot like headlights if you're headed south. You come up the hill, see the road signs indicating a curve, then you see what appears to be a pair of headlights coming straight for you, on YOUR side of the road.

If I didn't drive that road all the time and know they were the lights on the fence/gate, I'd try to get out of the way.

Just a comment. The new fence looks nice compared to the old one.

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b8es 2 years, 5 months ago

KDOT's explanation about the guardrail sounds like total BS. They just don't want to have to deal with replacing the guardrail three times a year. I just hope for everyone's sake that nobody ever hits the stone columns and dies. There are real liabilities associated with placing such a large object in an area where it is known that cars are likely to hit it. Any lawyer would have a field day with KDOT and the owner.

If I were the Shucks, I'd make sure I have it from KDOT in writing that they refuse to install that guardrail. Also, I'd make sure my homeowner's liability insurance was paid up. I think most of the responsibility could be shifted to KDOT, everyone would be drug through court.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 5 months ago

A dozen speed bumps should do the trick.

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Starlight 2 years, 5 months ago

I can't recall if the 40mph is posted on a black on white sign(regulatory) or a black on yellow sign(advisory). The black on yellow are not the speed "limit" but suggested speeds for the curve. Of course if you can't negotiate the curve at the speed limit of 55 you still have a problem.

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techmanmacho 2 years, 5 months ago

Howabout an Evel Knieval style ramp? She could sell tickets, set up a camera and post videos on Youtube.....

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RoeDapple 2 years, 5 months ago

I live on a corner lot with an ancient oak tree near the corner. How it has survived is beyond understanding. It has been hit many times since I have been here, and one morning I found the "bowtie" emblem from a Chevy pickup grill embedded in the bark. A police chase that included several branches of LE, MP and a helicopter had the perp dodging the tree, driving through the yard and clipping the mailbox when he went back onto the street. LE hit the tree that day.

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gccs14r 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm surprised that KDOT is worried about tossing the cars back onto the roadway. Maybe Ms. Schuck should install a gravel trap like they use for runaway truck ramps. That would keep errant drivers from hitting her house and keep them from driving away afterward. She wouldn't have to rebuild it each time, either.

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fatheadff 2 years, 5 months ago

How about cable barriers? 30 times in the same spot. That's not even a stretch of highway it's a couple hundred feet of roadway.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

I was once told that in a few locations in southern California extremely large decorative boulders that weigh in the tens of tons are placed in yards where there is a chance that a car will come flying off the road and collide with the house. I was also told in 2001 that a 75 ton boulder cost about $75,000 to have placed in the location of your choosing.

I have no idea what the statistics are of collisions with boulders in California. But, since there are boulders all over the place because so much of it mountains, it must be rather high.

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