Student safety concerns spark re-study request

Posted October 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

By Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

October 18, 2012

Officials with the Kansas City Public Schools are asking the city to re-study 13 key intersections scheduled to be changed from traffic signals to stop signs due to high student pedestrian traffic and the safety of the students who use those school crossings.

Cross walk pic.tif

Pedestrians cross the intersection of St. John and Topping. St. John and Topping is one of the intersections slated for traffic signal removal. Michael Bushnell

A post on the Northeast News facebook page from the school district cites concern for student safety and indicates the city has agreed to “postpone removal of infrastructure at those intersections until the reevaluations are complete.”

Recently, the city cited federal guidelines as its reasoning for scheduling traffic signal removal from 37 intersections throughout the urban core. The traffic signals will be replaced with stop signs. Five of the intersections are in a one-mile stretch of St. John Avenue, one of Historic Northeast’s busiest east-west arteries and home to three major school crossings: St. John and Quincy, St. John and Van Brunt and St. John and Topping.

After the Northeast News initially broke the story on Sept. 27, other media outlets picked up the story and a public backlash ensued from school parents and neighborhood leaders alike citing safety concerns for motorists and pedestrians. The city, however, has gone on the record stating the intersection changes would stand but any further changes would be discussed with affected neighborhoods and education officials prior to implementation.

The Traffic Engineering Department’s unilateral decision to remove traffic signals sparked so much citizen opposition that City Council member Jermaine Reed is sponsoring legislation to halt the further removal of traffic signals through the city’s Traffic Signal Update Program.

Reed stated: “I’m taking this action to not only satisfy citizen needs and concerns, but to insure nobody gets hurt at the intersections included in the process.”

The St. John and Topping intersection tops the school district’s list, followed by 12 other intersections that carry heavy student pedestrian traffic. The complete list includes:

1. St. John & Topping

2. Indiana & 39th St.

3. Indiana & 35th St.

4. Benton & 39th St.

5. Paseo & 59th St.

6. Benton/Walrond & Linwood

7. Cleveland & 43rd St.

8. Cleveland & Linwood

9. Benton & 27th St.

10. Paseo & 55th St.

11. Armour & Warwick.