Roundabout construction to begin later this spring

Model+image+of+future+roundabout+at+the+intersection+of+91st+Street+and+Lexington+Avenue.

City of De Soto

Model image of future roundabout at the intersection of 91st Street and Lexington Avenue.

Lynlee Hutchison, Editor in Chief

As construction is already underway within the De Soto High School campus, more additions to the school’s environment will soon be in full swing.

With the massive influx of traffic at the intersection of 91st Street and Lexington Avenue during school start and release times, the city of De Soto hopes to resolve the congestion with the installation of a roundabout. 

Within recent years, roundabouts have become much more popular within Johnson County and surrounding areas due to the multiple benefits the structure brings to a community. 

“For long-term benefit in that area of the community, it will provide more capacity and ability to push more cars through that intersection at the same time,” Affins engineer Scott Crane said. “I think it was really insightful for the city to consider this solution for this location.” 

While some members of the community question why another traffic signal is not being installed, De Soto City Administrator Mike Brungardt explains how this is not the most beneficial solution. 

“The trouble with a scenario like that is when you install a traffic signal at that intersection, for all the other times and days of the year where the traffic volume isn’t high, that signal is out there functioning and it is actually doing more harm than good,” Brungardt said. “It [traffic signal] will turn red when it doesn’t need to turn red, so you tend to back up traffic where you otherwise wouldn’t have [any].”

This notion has been taken into deep consideration by the city as lots of research has been done to determine this addition. 

“Studies dating back to the early 2000’s have indicated that there is not enough overall volume throughout the [entire] year at this intersection to justify putting a signal in,” Brungardt said. “It’s only really busy there [91st and Lexington] for 15 to20 minutes, maybe twice a day, and only for the 200 and some days that school is in session.” 

Not only is the constant movement of traffic a positive aspect of this feature, but the increased safety for young drivers.

“Generally the people that are already within the roundabout are moving at a pretty slow speed to navigate the circle, and people who are entering the roundabout have to pay enough attention and determine if they have to yield, ending in most accidents being low speed that most of the time do not result in an injury,” Crane said.

This aspect particularly stood out to the city when this idea was proposed.

“One of the things that really sold me on the benefits of a roundabout is exactly what Scott [Crane] was saying, if there are accidents they tend to be low angle, so they are ‘side-swipe’ and merging accidents. In a stop sign or stoplight scenario those are typically ‘t-bone’ accidents,” Brungardt said. “The actual number of accidents sometimes doesn’t necessarily decrease, but the number of fatality or injury accidents nearly goes away completely.”

Not only does this addition amplify drivers safety, but for walking pedestrians along the intersection as well.

“This is a great structure for being near schools because of the sidewalks. There are a lot less crossing points and which ways people have to look before crossing the streets,” said City of De Soto Director of Communications Whitney Lange.

Positive outcomes have been seen with these traffic structures and even within USD 232 itself.

“The school district and administration has been very supportive of the concept from day one, and I think that is largely because of their experience from Mill Valley,” Brundgardt said.

With the start of construction scheduled to start by the end of this month, access will still be maintained throughout all periods of the project to the 91st and Lexington intersection. 

“We [Affins] have phased this project, and one of the city’s expectations and or requirements was that the intersection is never to be closed. We are going to build portions of the project, and then reopen that area and move to a different area and close it, but at all times traffic coming toward that intersection from all directions, and leaving that intersection will always be open,” Crane said. “It takes a little more coordination and expectation amongst the contractor to do it that way, but we recognize particularly on 91st street to the west there is really no other access into the Casey’s, other businesses and the schools.”

Construction is planned to proceed throughout August of 2021, with the hopes of being primarily done before the 2021-22 school year.

Although change can be hard to adjust to, this enhancement is foreseen to make a positive impact for daily drivers.

“Once we get passed the notion that this is something new that we [De Soto Community] are all not necessarily familiar with, I believe it is a safer solution to place near school and just in general,” Crane said. 

Additional information such as images and informational videos of roundabouts can be found on the City of De Soto website: https://www.desotoks.us/263/Roundabout