[EDITOR'S NOTE: Facebook comments were printed as seen online for the sake of accuracy — typographical errors included.]
Last week Shawnee Traffic Commissioners made a recommendation to slow the speed limit along Kickapoo Street — from 34th Street to Westech Road — to 35 miles per hour. Shawnee residents took to Facebook to voice their opinions on the proposal — some praising the change, while others did not.
Shawnee City Engineer Michael Ludi told the board recent increases in retail development — with still more coming — and the potential for wrecks have made Kickapoo a prime candidate for backing off current speed limits, which are posted at 45 miles per hour throughout the Marketplace district. From the Marketplace south to 34th Street, next to Tener's Western Outfitters, the speed limit is posted at 40 miles per hour. Farther south of that, the limit goes down to 35.
Though Kickapoo is a four-lane, Ludi said the Marketplace and a lot of new development north of town has brought more traffic into the area.
“During the day there's so much congestion there's no way to reach that speed anyway,” Ludi said.
But later at night — when constant traffic is no longer an issue — speed is, he said.
Ludi said he just felt like 35 miles per hour would be more appropriate along that whole route.
Though some agree with Ludi's assessment, many others did not.
Commenting on the story via The Shawnee News-Star Facebook page, Lyssa Caprica said, “People literally already drive at that speed (35 mph) there for the most part. When you have so many lights in a row it’s kinda impossible not to.”
Randy Blackwell added, “I totally agree with that! No one needs to drive thru that area at 45 mph, way to dangerous. I would support even 25 mph thru there.”
He also added a suggestion that limits be varied at different times of the day, based on traffic congestion.
“Rush hour and everyone in Shawnee coming thru there verses 4 a.m. and no one there, correct? How about a (type of zone similar to a) school speed zone — only to be observed from morning to after 5 p.m. or something?”
Michael Schwab, however, disagreed with the notion.
“Oh no … lots of people driving … better lower the speed limit to (I could get across town on foot faster) speed,” he said. “Slam on a helmet lol. ...”
Shannon Day said lowering the speed is not going to help.
Another resident, Garrett Nettles said everyone drives slow enough already.
Tommy Price agreed.
“It already takes forever to get anywhere in this crap town,” he said. “Lowering the speed limit will do nothing but give the city extra income through speeding tickets.”
Julie Recipko said 45 mph is slow enough.
“Such bs!,” she said.
Still others chimed in with remedies of their own.
Danny Waller Jr said, “How about sync those stop lights that cause those traffic jams also in that area?”
Doug R. Wotherspoon Jr. said, “Speed change is not the best course of action. How about a turn lane to get into all the businesses in that area. One car stops to turn and backs up everything.”
Steve Reese, disappointed by the current situation, offered to serve as a sounding board in the future.
“I wish the city would’ve made different choices for the location of the intersections and traffic lights when planning for growth years ago,” he said. “I’d be happy to help with a task force or work group if the city would like citizen input.”
Jeremy Pharoah said, “Here's a thought. Stop building down there. Too many businesses. Build at the other end of town.”
Still others have just chosen to avoid the area altogether.
Diane Gentry Jepsen said, “I try and stay off Kickapoo as much as possible. It's just crazy especially on Fridays. A accident waiting to happen.”
Nelda Walker Ward had a similar reaction.
“Hate driving down that area with those strip malls,” Ward said. “Avoid it as much as possible.”
Sandra Merchant said, “I live in the area, and I try to avoid going out on Kickapoo!”
Traffic commissioners voted to recommend the proposal to Shawnee City Commissioners, who will have the final say.
Ludi said, if approved, it would take four to five weeks to get new signs. He said small flags could be temporarily attached to the new signs to act as a reminder of the change. A trailer also could be set out along the route to alert drivers of their speed.
Watch for updates as the proposal goes through a future meeting of the City Commission.