A green light for KC's stop sign plan
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City should have a green light to place new stop signs at selected intersections. But officials also must proceed with more caution, especially to protect pedestrians.
The city recently added the stop signs as part of a program to replace costly-to-repair stoplights. Traffic engineers say the lights aren’t needed at intersections with light traffic loads. But criticism from residents forced the City Council to suspend the program for re-evaluation.
On a recent afternoon a Star editorial writer drove up and down 31st, 39th and 59th streets, plus Meyer Boulevard and a few other streets. Three things became clear.
- Stop signs can help traffic move more smoothly.
For example, driving west on 59th from Paseo Boulevard toward State Line, drivers hit stoplight after stoplight at lightly traveled intersections, wasting gas and time. Stop signs would permit brief stops, and motorists could quickly get on their way. On 39th Street, the stop signs could have the same effect moving east from U.S. 71 Highway.
- Traffic engineers should re-examine the addition of stop signs at intersections where two-lane streets (such as northbound and southbound Paseo) intersect with roads such as 55th and 59th streets.
Those kinds of intersections are more confusing for drivers to negotiate, especially when it comes time to keep track of who’s turn it is to go straight or make a turn.
- Saving money is a good idea.
Even while the signs may cause some small traffic disruptions at certain times, they are far cheaper than maintaining old stoplights. That frees up funds for other city services.
Critics, however, have legitimate complaints about how the replacement program was rolled out. City Hall should have held proactive discussions with neighborhood groups about what could happen at intersections near their houses and schools.
City Manager Troy Schulte said this week that new crosswalks could be painted, or blinking stop signs added, to improve pedestrian safety at problematic intesections. Schulte also vowed the city would do a better job discussing with residents why lights were removed. That must happen.
The program to take out even more stoplights in the future should proceed. The city has embarked on a reasonable way to ultimately improve traffic flow and save public funds.