Cost puts halt to US83 changes

By Rod Haxton, editor

Despite public opinion and what appeared to be a majority sentiment on the Scott City Council, highway markings on south US83 Highway in the city won’t be changing.

The cost of making those changes and the fact it would be the city’s responsibility has halted an attempt to remark US83 as a four-lane highway, which it had been prior to KDOT’s changes in May 2016.

At the request of the council, KDOT had engineers review the site and they offered three plans for changing how the highway is marked. Taking it back to a four-lane highway would cost between $50,171 and $53,861.

“That’s a big chunk of money to change some lines,” noted Councilman Fred Kuntzsch.

Councilman Josh Gooden didn’t feel it was fair that the city would have to pick up the entire tab.

“They’re the ones who screwed it up,” he said, referring to KDOT.

“They don’t see it that way,” said Mayor Dan Goodman.

Councilman Perry Nowak said that it appears local residents have adapted somewhat to the lane markings and that they seem to work well for southbound traffic. He felt the bigger issue is with northbound traffic being limited to a single lane in the vicinity of the Love’s/Sonic entrance off US83. In that area, traffic is slowed by semis and other vehicles turning east into the convenience store and truck stop.

 

KDOT has also been informed that because the speed zone is reduced from 55 mph to 40 mph near the Love’s access, drivers are slamming on their brakes and/or using the left-turn lane as a passing lane to bypass traffic.

The council expressed its displeasure that changes were made without input from the city. Council members noted that while KDOT area engineer Gary Bennet informed them there was a public meeting at which the council had a representative, no member of the council could recall that meeting taking place.

 

Changes Not Popular

Rather than having two lanes of northbound and southbound traffic, KDOT changed the configuration to three lanes with a single lane northbound and southbound, along with a center two-way left turn lane from the south city limits to Clara Avenue.

At the time, the change was unpopular with local residents and Police Chief Chris Jurgens who said the change had contributed to several accidents and near-misses.

The council didn’t feel the changes took into consideration the amount of southbound traffic that needed to turn east at Albert Avenue on their way to the pharmacy or Scott County Hospital.

In a recent meeting with the council, Bennet said the city’s traffic safety concerns weren’t significant enough to warrant a change.

He also advised the council that if changes were made the city would be responsible for the cost since KDOT lacks the funding.

 

Looking at Options

In order to relieve some of the southbound traffic on US83 that’s headed for the hospital, pharmacy and Shopko, the idea was again raised of improving the frontage street on the east side of the highway.

The entire street from Heartland Foods south to Albert Avenue is paved with the exception of about 40 feet of dirt road between Scott County Lumber and Road 140. Councilwoman Barb Wilkinson wondered about the cost of acquiring the right-of-way in order to extend the concrete street.

In its current condition, it was noted that the dirt section that has become a street is in deteriorating condition. Green said he was informed of one vehicle that sustained a broken axle from a pothole on that street.

The council felt that by paving the street it would make the property more valuable to the owners. Public Works Director Mike Todd suggested that if the city pursue improvements the section include curb/gutter with concrete paving.

City Attorney John Shirley was asked to contact the owners and see if they would be interested in the street improvement at the city’s expense.

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