Speed limit reduction request goes to KDOT secretary
by Clarke Davis
Valley Falls city officials have met personally with the Secretary of Transportation in an effort to slow the K-4 highway traffic through the city.
Mayor Charles Stutesman reported to the city council that he along with Administrator Chris Channell and Rep. Ramon Gonzalez had a 40-minute session with Secretary Mike King May 29 in the secretary’s office in Topeka.
The mayor said he felt they were well received and listened to and he is hopeful they will hear back soon.
Stutesman is asking the state to begin reducing the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph at 150th Street, just north of Heinen P-H-E, then cutting the speed to 45 mph as traffic crests the hill and continues northeasterly past several business entrances until it passes the south end of the Delaware River bridge, then increase the speed back to 55 mph until traffic has cleared the north K-16 intersection.
The number of businesses located within a two-block area has increased from four to six within the past five years and a national chain store — Dollar General — now appears likely will be established in the same area soon.
While there have been accidents on this stretch of highway, city officials are told previous traffic studies do not support reducing the speed limit. There have been at least three vehicle deaths, but they were over 10 years ago.
In addressing the number of fatalities, the mayor said, “We want to get away from that kind of reasoning.” He said the city is lucky not to have had more fatalities and today’s approach is all about preventing them from ever happening.
There is constant pressure on the city to do something from the business people on the highway who witness close calls on a regular basis. The mayor said the community’s support for a slower speed limit was made clear when the Jefferson County Health Department conducted a health assessment study in the town.
“Highway safety was the top concern of residents,” the mayor said.
Stutesman pointed out that K-4 highway runs nearly the full length of the state and that there is a reduced speed zone for every town it runs through except Valley Falls.
The mayor said the secretary is new to the area and told him he would personally visit the community.
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