The Kansas City Star., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001, Wyandotte /
Leavenworth Neighborhood News.
by MARK WIEBE
The Kansas City Star
Traffic calming has come to the Westheight neighborhood in Kansas City, Kan.
Two weeks ago, Unified Government Public Works employees began installing three roundabouts on Washington Boulevard at 20th Street, 22nd Street and 24th Street. They also narrowed entrances to the neighborhood and created a dead-end at 25th Street and Washington.
The features, all of them temporary, were installed as part of an effort to slow down or divert traffic in the neighborhood.
Westheight residents approached the Unified Government's Public Works Department about six months ago seeking relief from the speeding traffic using Washington Boulevard, a residential street, as a thoroughfare
Several meetings later, the Public Works Department proposed installing the features for a trial period of 3 to 5 months. The Unified Board of Commissioners approved the move last month.
Ken Womack, program manager for the traffic-calming program, said that at the end of the trial period residents and public works officials would meet to determine whether to install permanent traffic-calming features, scrap the project or adjust the layout and extend the trial.
Before moving forward with the project, 51-percent of Westheight residents would have to approve the creation of a benefit district to help finance permanent installation.
Residents would contribute toward half of the project; the Unified Government would contribute the other half. Each feature could cost several thousand dollars each, Womack said.
Although Womack said he had received a few complaints about the temporary roundabouts, many residents have welcomed them.
"It has slowed traffic," resident Marie Verbanic said. "This was like a racetrack here. We're mostly elderly people here, and it was hard to get across the street."
Since beginning its traffic-calming program last year, the Unified Government has approved traffic calming features for three neighborhoods. Two are in the trial period. One has been approved for permanent installation.