Last month, Prairie Village Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft brought a proposal before the city council that would remove the traffic light at Somerset Drive and Belinder Road as a way to save costs and improve traffic flow.
On Monday, the council said they didn’t like that idea, voting 7-5 against the plan.
Bredehoeft told the council that public works had first started looking into whether the traffic light was a good fit for the intersection several years ago when Somerset Elementary closed. When the school was sold and torn down to make way for the Benton House senior living community, much of the rationale for keeping the light in place to help usher pedestrians across the street was gone. The department collaborated on a traffic study which found that the intersection no longer met any of the criteria for traffic lights.
It would cost Prairie Village approximately $9,000 to have KCP&L which operates the signal, remove it, but the city would have then saved $3,582 per year in operating costs.
On Monday, Ward 6 Councilor Terrence Gallagher, in whose neighborhood the traffic light lies, took an aggressive tone toward Bredehoeft and accused him of categorizing traffic lights as “dangerous” at the last meeting. Gallagher suggested that the light made the intersection — which is frequented by cyclists — safer in his opinion.
Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf said that a review of traffic incidents at the intersection over the past three years found that there had been four accidents at the light, all of them rear ends.