What’s With the Stoplight Changes in Brookside?

OK, what’s up with the stoplight changes in Brookside??  Surely you’ve noticed–at several intersections where there was a working stoplight (Main and Meyer, Main and Gregory, Meyer and Oak),  there are newly posted stop signs.  I spoke with Wei Sun at the Kansas City MO Public Works department to find out what’s going on.

New stop sign at Main and Meyer, Brookside

Mr Sun noted  these are permanent changes to the intersections.
Apparently these intersections do not meet the Dept of Transportation traffic safety guidelines to warrant a stop light  (see more here:  www.mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov — expect to spend some time translating this mumbo jumbo of government speak!).   Based on traffic patterns, the fed says  KCMO should have stop signs in these areas instead of stop lights. This was not a mandated change by the federal government, it was a KCMO decision to start following the federal guidelines.    The goal is to slow down traffic going through these intersections with the four-way stop signs.

Mr Sun also told me that if there is a ‘surge’ in traffic, the lights may be reactivated.  But right now, the lights are scheduled for removal at some point — exact time unknown, because the structures  contain lead based paint and will have to be carefully removed following certain safety procedures.   The intersections of Main/Gregory, Main/Meyer and Main/Oak will remain four-way stops, but the intersection at Wornall/59th St will remain a two-way stop (this  really causes back ups during rush hour). Mr Sun says because these areas are mostly residential, the traffic should be slower. Having the stop signs will encourage vehicles to 1)  travel other roads that are more commercial based and 2)  slow down for the stop sign. I’m not sure how much traffic will actually be diverted to busier streets. With gas prices climbing higher on a monthly basis, will drivers go several blocks out of the way to avoid a stop sign?

I drive through all of these intersections on a daily basis. Everyone who regularly travels Brookside streets are used to the stop lights. Especially when approaching Meyer from Main or Oak, the cross walk is so far beyond the intersection that now vehicles must stop twice–once before the cross walk area, and again through the cross walk area, advancing a few more feet to see oncoming traffic before continuing across the street.  If the changes will truly bring less traffic to these intersections, it’s worth a try.  However, Gregory is lined with businesses as well as residential homes.  Meyer is a very wide street, and  pedestrians/joggers/cyclists are really going to have to hustle to get across the street during peak traffic hours. I can see vehicles regularly running these stop signs after cruising along the street used to traffic lights. And what about the intersections of Meyer and Holmes/Gregory and Oak/Wornall and 55th–all very residential areas with heavier traffic.   Will they be getting stop signs as well?

Many Brookside residents are not happy about the new stop signs.  Part of the reason is  we were not told of the planned changes!  Mr  Sun admitted there should have been  ‘better communication’ with the local homeowners before the changes were put in place. There was NO communication!   Now they have a bit of a PR disaster with residents not understanding why the lights were suddenly put out of service.  A few public meetings involving Brookside residents should have been organized before the changes were implemented.

What do you think?  Will the stop signs slow traffic at these intersections?  Would you rather have working stop lights?  I’ll end this blog on a positive note:  Mr. Sun said there is a possibility of putting bike lanes on Meyer!

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7 thoughts on “What’s With the Stoplight Changes in Brookside?

  1. The change at Main & Gregory seems more questionable based on traffic, but I just don’t understand the complaints about the light at Main & Meyer. Why is anyone more prone to run a stop sign vs. a stoplight?

    The stop signs have to slow down traffic, as every car is stopping everytime. As for pedestrians, with every car stopping every time, there are plenty of openings to cross. It should mean less of a wait vs. waiting for a light change.

    It just seems like an overreaction to an unexpected change. Embrace it and I think in time it will prove to be a great move.

    Now for the two way stop on Wornall and 59th, that is a totally different story. Seems like a poor decision that will increase the speed of traffic on Wornall and make it much hardder for vehicles and pedestrians on 59th.

  2. I’m really struggling with whole thing. Agree change is difficult, but these are wide and busy intersections, and deducing who has the right of way has created a lot of confusion and a number of wrecks and near-misses in just the just the first weeks post-installation. My neighbors & fellow pedestrians all agree they feel more comfortable crossing at a designated “Walk” signal versus stepping into an intersection full of confused drivers.
    I e-mailed our city council members last week and received a series of prompt responses, the latest of which (from Councilman Taylor’s office) read as follows:
    “Staff is formulating their recommendations based upon their observations, and we will let you know what we discover.”
    I hope the city will NOT make these permanent changes, but will review and reconsider at intersections where this does not make sense.
    Also, agree, the City did nothing to warn driver’s of this change, which likely has created additional confusion and a PR nightmare.
    In the meantime, I’ve found myself avoiding crossing Meyer (via car) given how many accidents I saw there last week.
    As you can tell, I am definitely NOT a fan!

  3. I live near the intersection of Main and Meyer, and I can tell you that the stop signs have had mixed results.

    On the good side, the stop signs have slowed traffic, especially cars traveling east on Meyer. The stoplights were visible at a large distance in that direction, and prior to the stop signs being installed, you could regularly hear cars accelerate to speeds much greater than 35 mph in order to make the light.

    On the bad side, the stop signs have introduced confusion with right-of-way determination. I believe you are on to something with the “double stop” required of cars traveling on Main Street. The double stop, and the fact that the four-way stop is really a six-way stop due to Meyer’s double lanes, makes it more difficult for both drivers and pedestrians to cross Meyer with a stop sign than it was with the stoplight. I’ve also noticed an increase in honking at the intersection since the change, which I introduce not to say that the additional noise is bothersome, but as further evidence of confusion in determining the right-of-way.

    All that being said, I haven’t noticed any accidents since change.

    Your closing note on the bike lanes is quite intriguing. Adding bike lanes to Meyer and what I assume would be the corresponding reduction of Meyer Blvd. from four-lanes to two in order to accommodate the bike lanes would eliminate much of the confusion with the right-of-way at Meyer and Main.

    Keep up the great investigative work!

  4. Switching to stop signs in select locations is a great case of “addition-by-subtraction” for which I applaud the city. Stop signs put humans in control rather than an apparatus. Until we have self-driving cars drivers should be the decision-makers wherever practical, and the city traffic-systems should minimize toggling the drivers minds between the two modes because it causes uncertainty and tentativeness.

    Besides saving money and energy and having prettier city, this is why I wish we could have more decorative traffic circles (like at the airport parking with yield-signs) and fewer stop-lights.

    Most driving N-S Wornall barely crack 30 even though the speed-limit is 35. I’ve found myself getting impatient when I would see the green light up-ahead and knowing if the person in front of me would just drive the speed limit we could make the light. Same thing at Main/Gregory — now I just creep up to the 4-way until my turn and I can sail right through with no fuss at all. It’s just simpler now — almost relaxing in comparison to the old stop-light.

    4-way’s are an opportunity to look our fellow commuters in the eye and be courteous to each other rather than being stuck at stop-lights, left-turners, lane-changers, yellow-light barreling, etc.

  5. I regularly head west on 59th to turn right (north) on Wornall. When the stoplights were still present, I had to wait for the light to turn green for cars in front of me to go straight or turn left. However, as soon as the light turned green, I knew I would be able to turn right onto Wornall. There is an onslaught of cars going north to the Plaza in the morning. Now, I have to wait longer, for a gap in traffic. I liked turning left on 59th from Brookside because there’s a left hand turn lane. I could go up to 55th (or to the smaller side streets), but it’s busier, with no turn lane. I believe you’re not supposed to turn left on 51st during morning “rush hour.” So, just my take, but I wish they’d at least put the stoplight back at that intersection. Maybe adjust the light timer…

    Are they trying to save money? Presently, are they saving much with the blinking light vs. a stoplight? Is it when they remove the lights entirely that they will save money?

    You know, Mary, you should be able to request copies of documents that serve as the basis for this decision. At the federal level, it’s the Freedom of Information Act and in Missouri, it’s the Sunshine request, so I’m sure they have something at the local level… What do you bet this wasn’t that well thought-out? That should show up in the documents…

    • I agree about 59th and Wornall. This is a disaster…people are still stopping on both streets even though an old burlap rag is covering the N/S lights. As soon as the bushes leaf out on the west side of 59th you will have to creep into the intersection to see traffic. All in all another stupid KC MO idea!

  6. As an update to the Main and Meyer situation, the stop signs have been relocated to the opposite side of the crosswalk on Main (closer to the intersection). The old poles have been replaced with a “yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk” sign.

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