Stop lights coming down at 37 intersections

A stop light at the intersection of Brush Creek Boulevard, Gillham Road and Harrison Street will be replaced with a four-way stop. Its one of 37 intersection changes across the city to comply with federal traffic standards.

Posted by Joe Lambe

The city is once again replacing many traffic lights with stop signs in a process officials say is never easy.

Citizens complained at a recent city meeting about the ongoing changes at 37 intersections and city officials apologized for not better informing the public.

But officials also say the changes have to be made to comply with federal traffic standards.

“There is a learning curve on both sides and we’re trying to resolve it,” said Sean Demory, a city spokesman.

Such past changes have also led to spirited debate, he said. “The people of Kansas City are active and engaged as they should be.”

The intersection of Brush Creek Boulevard, Gillham Road and Harrison Street is among the few intersections to be changed in Midtown.

Like the other sites, officials say, it no longer has enough traffic, accidents and pedestrians to justify a stop light under the federal standards.

Not following the standards would put the city at liability risk in traffic accidents and ignore criteria used nationwide, Demory said.

While citizens might have battled to get traffic lights at some of the sites in the past, city spokesman Dennis Gagnon said, “There are kind of life cycles to intersections”

This is the third time in about six years that the city has made such changes, he said, and they make sense.

“Everybody has this idea that a traffic signal has this kind of magic power,” he said, “but from a public safety standpoint it can be far safer to have a four-way stop.”

If there are lights and not enough traffic, he said, irked drivers tend to lose respect and “do their own thing.”

Demory said, “This isn’t a money dodge,” to save cash. It will result in only about $9 million in savings, he said, about enough to buy four streetlights. He also agreed the city should have done more to inform citizens of the changes and the reason for them.

“We will learn from this and move forward differently,” he said.