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.
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!