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Thursday, April 17, 2014

County watching casino traffic on South Hydraulic

By Deb Gruver
The Wichita Eagle

Since the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane opened late last month, traffic on South Hydraulic near the Sedgwick County line has increased roughly 80 percent — from about 1,000 vehicles a day to about 1,800 vehicles a day.

County commissioners say they’re paying attention to the numbers, trying to keep ahead of any potential traffic problems.

“I’m hearing anecdotally that traffic’s picked up,” said Chairman Tim Norton. “I’ve also heard that along the Broadway corridor. I’m not ready to say yet that it’s going to stay that way. But a nearly 80 percent increase … I think it makes you pause to say wow, that’s pretty significant.”

Norton isn’t ready to say there’s a problem. But he has asked the Public Works Department to keep an eye on the numbers. At some point, changes to speed limits or traffic signs and lights might be warranted, he said.

“If we’re not measuring it, gauging it, trying to figure it out, we might get caught short,” he said.

Public Works director David Spears said a traffic study on Hydraulic showed that:

•  Traffic from 111th to 119th Streets South increased from 1,047 vehicles a day to 1,808.

•  Traffic from 103rd to 111th South increased from 1,155 to 1,874 vehicles a day.

•  Traffic from 95th to 103rd South increased from 1,251 to 1,945 vehicles a day.

•  Traffic from 87th to 95th South increased from 647 to 1,564 vehicles a day.

Spears said most people are using the Kansas Turnpike to get to the state-owned casino, as a study predicted.

“We will get new counts every six months,” Spears said.

The county is waiting for traffic counts from the state about Broadway, which is considered a U.S. highway, Highway 81, outside the city of Wichita.

Traffic on Meridian has not changed significantly, Spears said. Traffic from 111th to 119th South increased from 591 to 638 vehicles per day. Traffic on Hillside on that same stretch increased from 143 to 156 vehicles.

Commissioner Jim Skelton told staff Tuesday that he had heard that South Hydraulic had water across the road between the 8700 and 9000 blocks.

Skelton said some people have reported tire tracks off the road from drivers losing traction and going into ditches.

“It’s a traffic safety concern,” Skelton said. “Increased traffic means that anything that’s an issue is going to be magnified.”

Spears said public works staff would look into the problem.

“That is a low, flat area,” he said.

Skelton said people he knows who live on South Hydraulic have said the increase in traffic was “substantial and very noticeable.”

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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