City adds no-park zones

By Burk Krohe

City commissioners Tuesday approved changes designed to improve traffic safety in a neighborhood near the Kansas State University campus.

Commissioners approved two “no parking” zones along portions of the 2000 and 2100 blocks of College Heights Road and a permanent multi-way stop sign at the intersection of College Heights and College Avenue. The measure passed on a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Wynn Butler objecting and Commissioner John Matta being absent.

Peter Clark, city design engineer, said the city received complaints about the visibility at the Lee Street and College Heights. Residents said cars parked close to the intersection, blocking sight lines, make it dangerous to turn onto College Heights from Lee.

The city investigated the residents’ concerns and found there was a problem at the intersection.

“A couple things stuck out to us,” Clark said. “One was there’s a large tree in the right of way.”

The tree and cars parked up to 60 feet from the intersection caused reduced visibility. Clark said the sight lines allow barely enough time for a driver on College Heights to react. He said a car traveling the 30 mph speed limit has just enough time to slam on the breaks before crashing into an object at the intersection. 

The city also found there was a problem at Elling Drive and College Heights, where Clark said the visibility was even worse for cars trying to turn onto College Heights from Elling. He added that the intersection at College Heights and College Avenue has visibility issues due to the vertical curve in the road, something that could not be remedied with a no parking zone.

After analyzing traffic data in the corridor, the city proposed a no parking zone 145 feet west from Lee, a no parking zone 120 feet west from Elling and also proposed making the multi-way stop at College Heights and College permanent.

Some residents in the area supported multi-way stops at Lee and Elling as well, but Clark said the traffic volume at those intersections was not high enough to warrant stops. He said stop signs at lower volume areas are often ineffective, and Ron Fehr, city manager, noted installing stops where they’re not warranted increases the city’s liability exposure.

Several residents from the area spoke in support of the measure, while one spoke in opposition.

Barbara Withee, who resides on Elling, said the corridor has been dangerous for years. Withee worked at the medical center, just north of the College Heights-College intersection, for 20 years and made the turn onto and off of College every day.

“It was dangerous then and through those 20 years, and 20 years since then, it has become extremely dangerous,” Withee said.

Brian Spooner, who resides on College Heights, said he would like to see a lower speed limit or no parking on the south side of the street but supported the measure because it’s a step in the right direction.

“Some action is a start, it gets us moving in a safer direction,” Spooner said.

However, Ken Stewart, who resides on College Heights, opposed the no parking zones for several reasons.  He termed the proposed changes “a mistake.”

Stewart said the original discussion was centered around reducing speed limits, not reducing parking.

He also said the elimination of parking will force residents to park farther west on College Heights and will also cause resident to start parking on lawns.

“To eliminate these spaces is an unnecessary inconvenience for the students who are mostly the occupants of these homes along the street,” Stewart said. “They gotta park someplace, and we gotta have those college students; we depend on them heavily in this community.”

Stewart added that elimination of parking will encourage speeding on College Heights because speeders will have a clearer view of what lies ahead. He suggested leaving the item on the table in order to study the feasibility of a 25 mph speed limit.

Butler also thought the speed of traffic was at issue rather than parking. Clark said reducing the speed to 25 mph would take significant changes to the character of the road, which wouldn’t be cheap, because it was not designed for traffic at that speed.

“I think we should leave the parking alone until we study it further,” Butler said.

He could not find support from other commissioners, though.

Also Tuesday, commissioners approved a resolution that will allow city finance officials to reexamine and possibly revise the city’s investment policy.

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