Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner city council members discussed a concern they have with the city of Edgerton’s recent traffic study at the March 21 meeting during council updates.
Todd Winters, mayor, said he had emailed Don Roberts, Edgerton mahyor, about the traffic study and Edgerton’s recently expressed safety concerns about the intersection of 191st street and I-35.
Winters said the traffic study suggested closing the entrance for the Phillips 66 gas station or shutting down 191st street.
“Why are they so concerned with our intersection in Gardner,” he said.
The traffic study for the Gardner Road/191st/I-35 intersection was presented and reviewed by Edgerton City Council at their recent March 10 meeting.
The study recommended the closure of 191st Street as the only option available for Edgerton available to them as the intersection is within Gardner.
Winters cited the minutes from the City of Edgerton’s Sept. 9, 2021 meeting and said the city had said it takes half an hour to go through the intersection.
Winters said Jody Brown, Edgerton city council said he wanted to know if cul-de-sacs could be constructed on 191st Street at Edgerton City limits.
It would force LPKC employees to stay in Edgerton if this was done, he said, and so in his opinion he could see the ultimate endgame.
Winters said he was concerned Edgerton was just trying to keep business away from Gardner and in Edgerton.
In the Edgerton September 9 city council meeting minutes, he quoted council member Josh Lewis’s statement about the forced closure of 191st street would force people working at LPKC to eat lunch in Edgerton with Councilmember Jody Brown in agreement.
Winters said Edgerton Mayor Roberts agreed with the safety concerns and could ask city staff to look into the legality of them being able to construct cul-de-sacs on 191st street.
Roberts had said at the September meeting the city had spent a lot of money to keep trucks out of Gardner per many traffic studies.
Steve Shute, council, said Edgerton had conducted the traffic study two weeks after the new QuickTrip had been built.
The study was commissioned and paid for by the City of Edgerton.
Winters said in his opinion the conclusions were questionable and reaching at best.
He also felt, he said, there was a conflict of interest with Elevate Edgerton conducting the traffic study.
Erik Van Potter, council member said he had reviewed the report twice and even though he didn’t speak engineering language he didn’t see safety concerns at the Phillips 66 gas station with only two accidents reported in the last few years.
The safety study evaluated current traffic conditions by conducting traffic counts during peak periods at six different intersections.
The study stated they observed a considerable amount of traffic using the Phillips 66 gas station to cut through to access Locust Street in Gardner. It also said the intersection of the Phillips 66 and Gardner Road driveway had a failing level of service.
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said the study had been done while lanes were closed with a lack of activity.
“They didn’t observe a pattern of behavior,” he said. “It lacks credibility.”
Pruetting said the study had been conducted by drones when roads hadn’t been completed.
Kacy Deaton, council member, said she took issue with Edgerton doing a traffic study in their town. “We don’t go to other cities and do traffic studies,” she said.
Pruetting said no independent consultant had reached the conclusion that 191st Street needed to be closed and the fire and police departments were also opposed to closing the road.
Van Potter said it would be a longer trip for first responders to go around and be able to reach people in an emergency.
Shute said awhile ago with the area’s truck traffic issues Edgerton had vehemently opposed to closing 191st Street.
“They don’t have a leg to stand on,” he said.
Pruetting said they were looking at ways to slow traffic and were meeting with Phillips 66 this week..
James Belcher, police chief, said the department hits the corridor regularly.
Winters said they had reached out to Google Maps and had them correct the Phillips 66 interchange as it was showing up incorrectly. Edgerton’s traffic study indicated Google maps was directing traffic into Phillips 66.
Shute said he lives in the area and had noticed every truck goes to 188th Street to turn left.
Pruetting said there was a clear line of sight coming out of Phillips 66.
Van Potter said he had never seen an accident in three years.
Mark Baldwin, council, attended the meeting through Zoom and said section 4.1 of the study left out the Locust Street improvement.
It was ill timed for the study and mitigated already, he said, and he didn’t see an issue of any concern.
Tory Roberts, council member, said it would be nice if Gardner and Edgerton could work together.
“But it seems like there are other ulterior actions,” she said.
Shute said the city needed to have a plan and be prepared for Edgerton to take action.
Winters said they were getting together with public works to discuss improvement of the intersection and take action as Gardner.
Van Potter said if Edgerton was going to make decisions on Gardner’s intersection the two city councils should combine as one council.
Previously, Edgerton has said the study was done for safety issues and due to the proximity of the intersection to Nike and “allegations” problems were created due to traffic to LPKC. According to the report, the only option available to Edgerton was closure of 191st St, The study discussed contacting Google to route traffic correctly, removal of a Gardner truck route sign directing trucks on 191st, intersection lane work, and more police patrolling.