By Jon A. Brake
Wal-Mart wants a grand new store in Manhattan and we should welcome them, again. Wal-Mart has been a part of Manhattan for the past thirty-years. They have been good to their employees and they are good for Manhattan.
But, the City is using Wal-Marts plan for a new superstore as a reason to redesign Third St. and Bluemont Avenue. Many people look at this intersection as the biggest traffic problem in Manhattan. And it may be but it is not that big of a problem. Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka have dozens of streets with much bigger problems.
The City wants to redesign Bluemont from Hayes Drive on the East to 4th Street on the West. Third and Bluemont would become right in and right out only. That is not right.
The City looks to consultants for an answer to the intersection and they (two) say that the City must put in a concrete median to prevent left turns and through traffic. The staff also likes to bring in a Kansas Department of Transportation letter dated November 15, 2001 which says "The proposed design call for the removal of the existing signal at Bluemont and Third and construction of a raised median on Bluemont to provide needed left-turn storage capacity approaching TCB (Tuttle Creek Blvd.)." That is what the letter states but if you talk with Chris Huffman at KDOT the author of the letter he will tell you that KDOT would look at other designs.
It would appear that the City staff wants a raised median on Bluemont and the consultant and KDOT are willing to give it to they.
The City needs to take a new look at the intersection. We are told that 50% more cars and trucks will be going through the intersection within ten years. But, if you look at the traffic now, most of the problem comes from the cars in the right lane. To get to Wal-Mart, Dillon's and other stores on the eastside of Tuttle Creek Blvd. cars must be in the right lane.
With the new Wal-Mart store most of the traffic will be going straight. Plans call for four-lanes of traffic going east. That is over kill. One lane at Third turning left will work. Look at the photo above. Wichita's Rock Road and Kellogg Ave. has more than 32,000 cars a day, three or four times than Third Street will every have. It works in Wichita and it will work in Manhattan.
Cut off traffic at Third Street and you will destroy business on Third.
It is not necessary. The City needs to take another look.