Four months after a student was struck in a crosswalk, the Pittsburg school district is tackling traffic safety.
The four step plan is a collaborative effort of USD 250, the city, county and KDOT to improve safety around Pittsburg high school.
Buses travel Fourth street to enter the west side of the high school to pick up students and come back out onto Fourth streets for the journey home. That will change under a new traffic safety plan.
Superintendent Destry Brown explained, "We will be bringing the buses in through the main entrance to the high school. They'll line up in front of the school to pick kids up, then they will exit out to Free King Highway and then back to the four way stop. They think that will be safer and will get the traffic moving more efficiently."
They is the Kansas Department of Transportation. KDOT will change the intersection at Fourth and Free King into a four way stop after the school district adds another driveway into the school parking lot. It will be located directly across from Villa drive for students to enter directly into the parking lot.
But a bigger, long range goal is to make the intersection a roundabout.
City manager Daron Hall admitted that is more expensive. He said, "We’re talking about a three million dollars for a roundabout. You gotta buy land. Takes much longer probably two to four years." But Hall likes them because they eliminate T-bone accidents.
KDOT has offered to help the city apply for a federal safety grant in hopes of building a roundabout at the intersection.
KDOT area manager, George Dockery is hopeful. He said, “We feel like, since KDOT has already done a traffic study out there and the recommendation was for a roundabout at that location, that perhaps that will give us an edge on the list."
Officials say the push for better traffic patterns has been going on since the high school was built but took on even more urgency when a student was hit by a car in the crosswalk west of the main entrance.
Hall said, "When somebody gets hit, the city wasn't gonna back down and Destry Brown, if you know him at all, was not taking no for an answer."
The plan answers a concerns of Carolyn Norton who’s son was hit back in September.
Then she argued, "The speed limit needs to drop down just for a couple of blocks. "
Now the area of Fourth street beside the high school will become a school zone with flashing lights and slower speed limits moving from forty miles an hour now to twenty-five."
Hall said, “All those traffic control costs are really ours to bear.”
And that is something that can happen as soon as the lights can be purchased. Other changes won’t likely happen until spring. The county will pay the cost of constructing the new driveway for the district. Dockery said that needs to be constructed before KDOT will make the intersection a four way stop.
Hall said the city will definitely apply for the grant for a possible roundabout. Even if it is successful, Dockery said it wouldn’t be constructed for another four to five years.
The superintendent said parent pickup would occur before buses arrived at the school which would allow for good traffic flow. But he expects there to be some hiccups when the new system is initiated.
The city manager blogged about the process creating the safety plan and assistance from local Representative Monica Murnan. You can see that blocg by clicking here.