Shawnee city commissioners voted Monday night to reduce the speed limit through the busy Marketplace area along Kickapoo Street all the way south to 39th Street.

Shawnee city commissioners voted Monday night to reduce the speed limit through the busy Marketplace area along Kickapoo Street all the way south to 39th Street.

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, the Marketplace and a lot of new development 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.

He said he just felt like 35 miles per hour would be more appropriate along that whole route.

“As we analyzed the traffic data that we collected we calculated that 85 percent of the traffic throughout a 24 hour period was traveling at 35.9 mph and that the average speed was 25.5 mph,” he said.

Ludi said the situation was just as staff suspected — average vehicle speeds were higher in the early mornings and late evenings and slowed down as traffic increased, with slowest average speeds being recorded through the noon to 1 p.m. lunch hour.

“The average highest speed time was found to be around 4 a.m. at 38 mph, and the average lowest speed time was 12:30 p.m. at 19.5 mph,” he said.

Ludi also said 265 reported accidents in that area from 2010 to now, plus the recent growth of many retail businesses were factors in proposing the change.

Ward 2 Commissioner Ron Gilliam Sr. disagreed with a portion of the plan. In the area along Kickapoo between MacArthur and 45th Streets, where current speed limits gradually rise from 35 mph to 40 mph, Gilliam said traffic appears to him to flow nicely.

“I hate to take something away from residents if it's not necessary,” he said.

Ward 5 Commissioner Ben Salter countered with concerns that, in his experience, drivers sometimes have a tendency to go faster to catch a green light at 45th Street, making it more dangerous.

Ludi said his purpose for choosing to make the speed limit consistent throughout is in anticipation of continued business growth in that area.

Ward 3 Commissioner James Harrod was in favor of Ludi's plan to attack the problem before it gets worse.

The item, unanimously passing in a recent Traffic Commission meeting, also was approved by City Commissioners, though there was a sole vote against it by Gilliam.

Change coming

Ludi has said 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.