August 31, 2014

Biz owners, residents voice intersection expansion concerns

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Reluctantly, Shirley Bruce VanArsdale will move forward with plans to expand Bruce’s Funeral Home and add more parking.
“I’m going to expand and hope you don’t eat us in another 15 years,” she told city and state officials while voicing her concerns about a U.S. 56 Highway and Center Street expansion. The funeral home sits on the southwest corner of the intersection and current plans will eat into her property eliminating a garage entrance to her property.
VanArsdale was among several business owners and citizens voicing their concerns about the project on March 8.
Kansas Department of Transportation officials told the crowd of about 20 people that the plans will add capacity to the intersection. According to their analysis, the existing intersection handles about 9,000 cars each day – 200 of which are trucks. By 2040, they anticipate the intersection will see approximately 30,000 vehicles per day including 1,200 trucks.
Karen Rumble, a vice president at Patriot’s Bank on the northeast corner of the intersection, said a lot of the traffic that passes through downtown now and that will in the future isn’t traffic that stops at local businesses.
Sen. Rob Olsen, who represents Gardner, Edgerton and part of Olathe in the state legislature, agreed.
“You guys are going to have a lot of pass through traffic,” Olsen said. “You’re going to increase your traffic flow and it’s going to kill your downtown.”
Rumble said adding an additional lane will make it more difficult for drivers to access the banks, including Patriot’s Bank and Metcalf Bank on the southeast corner.
“Businesses will suffer,” she said.
Rex Cummins who used to own Ace Hardware in town said construction on Moonlight Road a few years ago limited access to his store.
“The construction ran me out of business,” he said.
Rumble said other cities create separate thoroughfares for truck traffic to protect retail.
“They divert traffic for trucks. It can be done. I hate to see the downtown turn into Noland Road,” she said referencing a busy street in Independence, Mo.
Resident Bob Page agreed.
“The better you make that intersection, the more trucks you’re going to have,” he said.
However, David Greene, city public works director, said the point of the project is to make the intersection safer for drivers and pedestrians.
There have been 30 accidents at the intersection in the last three years. None were fatal. Of those, only seven were left-turn related. Eleven were rear-endings. They also couldn’t anticipate specific lower accident numbers once the intersection expansion is complete.
“Based on a lot of research, we’re going to reduce the severity of the accidents,” Greene said.
Several residents and business owners said lowering the speed limit through town might also lessen the severity of accidents at the intersection as well as offer additional benefits.
Rumble said with a lower speed limit, some drivers who go through town without stopping, may decide to stay on the highway and bypass downtown.
Kipp Willnauer, a homeowner just west of the funeral home, said the plans need to take homeowners into consideration as well as business owners. Although he’s made improvements, he said high speed traffic wreaks havoc on his home.
“We all shake and rattle. We’re all falling apart,” he said.
The project will move the road closer to Willnauer’s Main Street home, and the snow plows will be that much closer as well.
“The snow last April, they pushed snow 10 to 15 feet up to my windows on my home. You’re coming 15-feet closer to my 25-foot front,” he said.
Steve Devore, president of the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce, said the existing parallel parking in front of Main Street businesses probably isn’t ideal.
“I think we need to identify what we want our downtown to be,” Devore said. “Then as a community we have to address it.”
Buying out businesses along Main Street for future expansions isn’t an option, according to Greene, however.
“That’s not going to happen,” Greene said. “If we have to buy people out, we’re not going to do the project.”

30 Accidents between 2008-2011
Rear End – 11
Failure to yield left turn - 7
Overtaking sideswipe - 6
Bike/vehicle – 3
Running Red Light – 2
Failure to yield right turn  – 1
Source: city of Gardner

Comments

  1. Why would I want to patronize a business where the owner has gone out of his way to post negative comments about customers. I believe he also mentioned someone by the name of Kelly in his original post too. It’s just plain rude. I didn’t realize only certain people’s money is welcome at local eating establishments. Good to know.

  2. Amused citizen says:

    FYI Agreed the Kelly comment was a joke

  3. You could take out the one bank and old liquor store and put in a round about. Not a bad idea Ryan. Could also put the utility drop box near the round about to make for easier access. Parking in front of city hall would have to be eliminated though.

  4. @Senior and Agreed says:

    Senior, why are you defending Judith, who is by far the most consistently negative person who posts out here and who derails and dominates every conversation with insults and childish name-calling? On most websites, people like Judith ARE ignored, but Judith posts so frequently, and spews so much anger, that it’s almost impossible to comment without having the entire conversation dragged into the muck. The owners of this website refuse to ask people to behave, refuse to enforce their own posting guidelines, so why not return to Judith what she so happily gives us?

    Agreed, you DO realize that the “Kelly” comment was in reference to a movie, don’t you? And that the comment was in reference to something Judith had posted before? Also, if you had actually visited any of the restaurants that have been dumped on in this thread, you’d know which ones actually take care of their customers. You might try that, instead of judging places based on which ones don’t want to try to satisfy the permanently-unsatisfiable Judith.

  5. I’m not defending Judith. Ignore her and don’t read her posts if you don’t like them. I rarely do. Or come up with productive ideas like Ryan did about the roundabout. Judith bashing is as negative as you accuse her of being. It’s not polite on anybody’s part. And you are right, if buisness-owner Josh doesn’t want to try to satisfy customers, he doesn’t have too. But what’s the point of all this drivel? Didn’t your mother ever tell you, if you don’t have anything nice to say, be quiet? Sometimes you just have to hold your tongue and move on. Which is what I am going to do right now.

  6. I have tried the new restaurants in town, so there goes your theory. I just happen to think it is bad form and bad business for any business owner to come onto a message board and make fun of customers. I think Senior is right and more people should take the high road rather than continue to bash people just because you don’t see eye to eye with them.

  7. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The proposed Main and Center Streets intersection rehabilitation project will again be addressed during the City Council Meeting, Monday, March 19, 2012 at Gardner City Hall. Members of the public are welcome to make comments at the beginning of the meeting about City matters or items on the agenda that are not part of a public hearing.

    City staff report on the intersection project may be read here: http://www.gardnerkansas.gov/images/uploads/City%20Clerk/City%20Council%20Agendas/2012%20Agendas/031912/NB2_CAF_Center%20and%20Main%20design%20options_dkp.pdf

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