By Holly Cook
Roeland Park city council members on Monday heard recommendations to improve traffic flow in the section of Roe Boulevard from W. 48th Street to W. 52nd Street. CVS, Walmart, Price Chopper and Walgreens are among the business located along this .4 mile stretch of Roe Boulevard that contains five traffic signals.
The traffic study recommended removing signals at Bella Roe Plaza/Walgreen’s and Roe Boulevard and at W. 52nd Street and Roe Boulevard. Removing and redirecting through and left-turn movement on from the east and west legs of the Bella Roe Plaza/Walgreen’s intersection was also recommended.
Following these changes the remaining three traffic signals would need timing updates and improvements.
Approximately 34,875 people travel through the Roe Boulevard corridor each day. The proposed changes are expected to decrease the total amount of stops for vehicles during peak hours by 450 and save 10.7 hours in total travel time.
The report, conducted by engineering firm Shafer, Kline, and Warren, is meant to be incorporated into the larger discussion to rebuild Roe Boulevard in 2020.
Director of Public Works Jose Leon said the most frequent complaint he hears is that there are too many traffic signals on Roe Boulevard. Leon said the traffic study was “long overdue.”
City Administrator Keith Moody also said the city has received significant feedback on the amount of time it takes to use Roe Boulevard as a commuter route.
Moody said he expected the recommendations would spur community discussions.
“We realize this is something that will be political,” he said.
Engineer Cheryl Bornheimer said the traffic signal at W. 52nd Street was initially meant to facilitate an easier entrance and exit for large trucks but that the report found the light was mostly being used by passenger cars.
Councilmember Michael Rhoades asked if the traffic signals being removed could be repurposed for the redevelopment plan at Roeland Park’s old pool site. City staff responded that could be discussed.
The traffic lights targeted for removal are owned by KCP&L and the city may need to pay a fine to have them removed since they were placed so recently, Moody said.
Councilmember Teresa Kelly said she would like councilors to consider all types of transportation, including biking and walking, when discussing Roe Boulevard improvements.
Monday’s presentation was solely for informational purposes. City staff said the next step is to initiate determining the scope and cost of the recommendations.