El Dorado City Commission dealt with several issues regarding streets during their meeting Tuesday evening

The El Dorado City Commission dealt with several issues regarding streets during their meeting Tuesday evening.

The first issue dealt with speed zones around the new El Dorado Middle School.

Scott Rickard, assistant city engineer, said they were asking the commission to consider two ordinances – one to extend the school zone on North Main and another to reduce the speed limit in that area from 65 to 50 miles per hour.

“City staff has been working with KDOT throughout last year on this, specifically about the school zone sign,” Rickard said.

The city wants to extend the school zone from 1,000 feet south of McCollum (where it currently starts) to 1,000 feet north of Wildcat Way.

Rickard said now KDOT wants to conduct their own speed study, so they are in a waiting pattern.

“With it being on a state highway they have jurisdiction,” he said.

KDOT also has jurisdiction over the speed limit, which the city would like to reduce all the way to the north city limit boundary.

While they were still waiting for KDOT’s decision, Rickard said they would like the commission to go ahead and approve the ordinances dependent upon KDOT’s approval to show their support and hopefully push the studies along. KDOT is looking at Main from Sixth Avenue all the way north.

“I think this is a good thing,” said Commissioner Chase Locke, “whenever we can be proactive on this and not wait and have to be reactive. With all of those semis and stuff going through, it makes me a little nervous right now.”

“With the new middle school on Wildcat Way, the challenge is it just has the one exit there onto Main Street where it is still 65,” added Commissioner Bill Young. “I understand the need for it and I am hopeful KDOT expedites this. We’ve got a lot more traffic up on North Main than we’ve ever had before.”

The commission approved both ordinances unanimously.

They also looked at the intersection of Sixth and Haverhill, which leads into the city’s industrial park.

“The last few years we have seen major development in the industrial park,” Rickard said. “We noticed a need for Haverhill and Sixth for signalization because of the high number of trucks.”

He presented some conceptual designs for the project, which would be completed in two phases. Phase one would be the traffic signals and phase two would include realignment of the lanes.

They were proposing using the money from the Federal Fund Exchange Program to pay for the majority of the $150,000 for the first phase. The city currently has $113,000 in federal funds available and they anticipate more in April.

Rickard said they were asking the commission to authorize Herb Llewellyn, city manager, to sign an agreement with the state to utilize the funds.

Mayor Mike Fagg had some concerns though about using the funds for that project.

He asked if the funds could be used on Towanda Street.

He was told they could and in the past the money has been used for such things as sidewalk projects and the Vine and Central intersection.

“As I drive by and look at that I’m sure in favor of doing stop signs at this intersection for safety,” Fagg said. “Can you do stop signs and see what happens at that point?”

He thought $450,000 was a lot of money for an intersection and believed they would see people sitting there waiting on the light at times when no one was coming from the other direction.

Llewellyn said they didn’t want to do stop signs because it would interrupt the flow on Sixth Avenue.

“If you went to the four-stop sign arrangements, everybody stops and that is not the purpose,” he said. “You put up a stop sign if you want everyone to stop. That is not an efficient way to run an intersection.”

Rickard added he believed stop signs would create a more hazardous situation, especially since it is five lanes wide at that point.

He recommended signalization or to leave it in its current state.

“I want to do something because there are a few times a day it is very busy,” Young said. “The challenge with stop signs is east and west bound traffic on Sixth. If there’s no traffic coming off of Haverhill, that traffic still has to stop. If we have a signal intersection that works properly, traffic will flow when it needs to.”

“I’m thinking going west on Sixth, people wouldn’t mind stopping at a stop sign,” Fagg said.

Rickard also said a four-way stop is typically more accident prone.

Fagg asked if the state would give them an opinion on what to do with the intersection.

Rickard said they have done volume studies and looked at turning movements.

“I would be interested in what the state has to say,” Fagg said. “I would rather spend $450,000 on some street projects.”

Young pointed out phase two doesn’t have to happen right away; it is just something they would like to see in the future, so the cost is only the $150,000.

Llewellyn said they have had conversations with BG Products about creating a benefit district and having them pay some as well. They also are looking at other funding sources.

“This is just dedicating that money for this purpose,” he said.

“You’re exactly right, Mayor, you could say we don’t want to spend this money on this light, we want to spend it on Towanda Street. You would be spending it on someone else’s road, but we could probably get permission to.”

Part of Towanda Street is owned by the county.

Fagg then asked if Walmart paid for their light.

Llewellyn said they did, but it was because they wanted the light and not the city.

Commissioner David Chapin gave his input, saying he thought lights were the best way to go.

Young added he liked that it was broken into two phases.

“We don’t have to reconfigure the intersection to put up lights,” he said.

Rickard said they would set up the lights to accommodate a reconfiguration.

Chapin also pointed out people are working to find money from different places to help with the funding.

“Maybe the industrial park and Inc. could pay half each for phase one,” Fagg said. “I’m still thinking stop signs and taking every penny possible to work on streets because I think streets are getting behind. I think our streets are worse today than they have been in 20 years. We have to come up with a proactive plan to increase that if we want people to feel good about living in town.”

When asked what streets he was talking about, Fagg said he would take them on a tour of the streets.

The commission then voted 4-1, with Fagg opposed, to authorize Llewellyn to execute the agreement.

Sixth and Main was the next topic of discussion.

This has been an ongoing issue with the trucks continuing to jump the curb.

Rickard said they are continuing to investigate the situation.

“Obviously all around town we have that problem,” he said. “It’s pretty significant right there because it is very visible. To alleviate some of those issues, we want to put in a system called bell bollards in place.”

He said they wanted to put them in to protect any pedestrians who could be in the crosswalk area and to keep commercial truck traffic from getting up beyond the curb and gutter.

The system would push the wheels back down on to the roadway.

The city also would do some red pavement in the area to make it all a hard surface. The red would differentiate it from the sidewalk.

Rickard said John Prather, who owns a large trucking company in the area, has offered to coordinate some discussions on other possible solutions.

“This seems the less drastic and most effective,” Locke said. “It sounded like it could solve a lot of our issues.”

Chapin asked if it caused damage to a truck who was liable and he was told if the truck was off of a marked roadway it was the truck driver’s responsibility.

“I just want the intersection to function as a truck route for most any trucker in the United States, and I think this one has way more ruts on it than any other intersection than we have fixed,” Chapin said. “I don’t want to just keep trying the next thing until we get it right.”

Fagg said he has been watching the trucks turning when he can and he was surprised to see how many go into the second lane. He believed if Sixth was going to be a truck route, it needed to be built like one. He wanted to see just two lanes going east to make a wider lane for the trucks turning west onto Sixth. He also questioned why they need two truck routes running east and west and wondered why they couldn’t just have the one on the south.

Llewellyn said he had never thought about that and said in his experience, people are adverse to change.

Fagg said the other option, just for discussion purposes, would be to have Central as a truck route.

Llewellyn said it was not big enough and Rickard said the pavement is not thick enough downtown.

Chapin asked if they could come back in 30 days with some options to solve the problems.

The final street project they took action on was the resurfacing of Main Street from Kansas to Fourth. This is Klink project, which means the Klink program would reimburse 50 percent of the construction and construction engineering costs of the project. The low bid was submitted by APAC Kansas in the amount of $366,474. The city’s portion would be funded through sales tax dollars.

Fagg was concerned this would take up 37 percent of the sales tax money for streets for the year, but Rickard said they had been holding some money in reserves for a couple of years in anticipation of this project. The low bid was approved 5-0.

Julie Clements can be reached at jclements@butlercountytimesgazette.com.