A plan to remove a traffic light that helps pedestrians cross Antioch Road to the Stonegate Pool has residents in the pool neighborhood worried about their children crossing the busy street.
By ROXIE HAMILL
Special to The Star
But Overland Park traffic experts say it shouldn’t be a problem because there’s another light just 200 feet to the south.
Residents of the Morningview subdivision are looking for ways to convince the city not to remove the light, which is at a T intersection where West 97th Street meets Antioch, just west of the pool. They have decided to draw up a petition and try to get as many residents as possible at the next public works committee meeting Aug. 28, said Brian Hogsett, who heads the effort for the Morningview Homes Association.
“For 30 years, generations have had the habit of crossing right there at the pool,” Hogsett said. Removing the light “will increase the risk of somebody getting struck.”
The issue arose last month after the city notified residents around the pool that the light would be removed and eventually replaced with a stop sign. Traffic lights have a life span of about 35 to 40 years, and that signal was installed in 1979, said Brian Shields, city traffic engineer.
The city did some counting and found there wasn’t enough traffic to warrant the light at West 97th Street, especially since there was another one close by at Hadley Drive. Pedestrians could easily go the short distance to Hadley, he said. Replacement of a traffic signal costs about $250,000.
Work is scheduled to begin in September. The signal would be set in flashing mode for a 60-day evaluation period before being replaced with a stop sign.
But some residents say getting rid of the light will make the intersection more dangerous. Kids will have to cross West 97th to get to the Hadley intersection, because the only sidewalk is on the north side of West 97th. And then they’ll be going down a narrower sidewalk along Antioch that is close to busy traffic, Hogsett said.
It would also be an inconvenience for drivers, he said, since there are very few other signal-controlled intersections in the immediate area. And they worry that a recent spate of commercial development at 95th Street and Antioch, which includes a new Hy-Vee, will only make traffic worse as time goes by.
The city staff has said studies show traffic after the opening of the store still wouldn’t warrant the signal, however.
Kids who are used to crossing at 97th Street might ignore their parents’ warnings and jaywalk there anyway, said Jami Lobdell, president of the homeowners’ association. “Even if you tell your kids over and over not to do things, sometimes they do,” she said.
Hogsett agreed. “That light is the only thing that convinced my wife to let our kids walk down to the pool without adult supervision,” he said of his sons, now 13 and 11. Removing the light is “an increased risk I would rather not take.”