The Watchdog

These lights aren’t at the end of the tunnel

Updated: 2014-01-13T04:05:51Z

The problem

Being able to see is arguably the most important part of driving. (If the Dog could use his sense of smell to maneuver a car, he would!) And Tom Taylor’s having some problems with just that.

He says, the the short “tunnel” on an Interstate 435 ramp just east of Quivira Road is very bright at night.

After driving for two hours in the dark, his eyes were used to the dark, but the tunnel was so bright that when he came back out into the dark it was like looking at a Dalmatian — spots, spots, spots. It took a moment for his eyes to readjust, which made him feel unsafe.

Taylor wants to know why there are so many lights in such a short, straight tunnel. And how much does it cost to light that tunnel day and night?

In addition, Taylor says, he thinks drivers would be well served by signs on westbound I-435 directing motorists to College Boulevard and 119th Street.

There are exit signs for U.S. 69, but Taylor thinks it might be helpful to have the other exits listed, too, since the same ramp serves as a route to all three.

The answer

Kim Qualls with the Kansas Department of Transportation said the state tries to prevent the kind of tunnel vision that Taylor was experiencing.

The lights inside the tunnel are hooked to a device that senses the brightness inside and outside the tunnel, and helps adjust the tunnel light to best mimic the lighting outside, she said.

KDOT says the average cost to light the tunnel is about $2,000 a month.

And KDOT says it can’t give drivers a heads-up on how to get to College Boulevard or 119th Street. Those exits are off U.S. 69, not I-435, and the practice is to confine exit information to the specific highway that motorists are using.

You won’t find signs for exits on other highways, even adjoining ones, Qualls said.

The Watchdog says it can be quite pleasant looking at a Dalmatian, except when you’re supposed to be watching the road.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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