Editorial: Intersection should be closed
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
Given the rate of accidents, it is appropriate for the Kansas Department of Transportation to close the intersection of Kasold Drive and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
KDOT will close the intersection Dec. 3. KDOT said more than 28 crashes have happened at the intersection since 2016, when the eastern leg of the trafficway — officially Kansas Highway 10 — was opened, increasing traffic on the road. The accidents occurred despite safety improvements at the time of the east leg’s opening to restrict the intersection to only right turns, on and off of the highway.
“I think given the studies and the accident rates they have revealed, it has to be closed,” said Keith Browning, director of public works for Douglas County. “I think it would be irresponsible for them to not close it at this point.”
In 2015, a group of rural residents had lobbied transportation officials to keep the intersection partially open, claiming that a full closure would eliminate an important access point for residents of southern Douglas County.
In 2016, the intersection was the subject of debate among city, county and state transportation officials. City and county officials lobbied the state to install a traffic signal at the intersection, but the state ultimately decided that would be too costly and adopted the less expensive plan of limiting the intersection to right-in and right-out turning movements. The plan also included barriers in the center of the highway to prevent motorists from crossing the highway.
The Kasold intersection is the only access point to the South Lawrence Trafficway on the three-mile stretch between the Iowa Street intersection and the 27th Street intersection. The 27th Street intersection includes a traffic light.
The closing of the Kasold intersection is one of several safety improvements the state plans for the trafficway during the next 12 to 24 months. The long-term plan is to expand the western leg of the trafficway from two to four lanes.
The Kasold intersection has been problematic since the implementation of the right-on, right-off only approach in 2016 and the subsequent opening of the eastern leg of the trafficway. While there was some convenience to having the additional access, the number of accidents at the site warrant the intersection’s closure.
The South Lawrence Trafficway is meant to move traffic quickly along the 15-mile stretch from the intersection of K-10 and Interstate 70 to the west and the intersection with East 1900 Road to the east. Traffic lights and access to the highway should be limited, and closing the Kasold intersection is the right step should make the highway safer and reduce accidents.