BENTON — A Kansas highway official said he brought an empty sheet of paper to write down suggestions to take back to his bosses on how to make K-254 safer.
A crowd of about 150 kept Tom Hein of the Kansas Department of Transportation writing Monday night. Most have lived near and traveled the expressway between Wichita and El Dorado for years.
Spurring the safety forum at Benton Church were three accidents in three days this month that killed three people and left another critically injured.
All of the accidents were caused by drivers running stop signs or turning into oncoming traffic.
"I go 70 (mph) and people fly around me like I'm standing still," said Ashley Maddern of El Dorado. "It's like a racetrack out there."
Among improvements residents requested:
* Larger stop signs at crossroads, especially at the intersections with Greenwich and Webb — sites of the most recent accidents. Those signs should include flashing lights, and the intersections should have more visible "stop ahead" signs.
* Rumble strips on side roads before the intersections to alert people who have to stop.
* Acceleration and deceleration lanes to keep traffic turning onto and off of K-254 away from passing vehicles.
Hein said some of those changes, including larger stop signs, are in the works. Other suggestions, he said, were included in a report released by KDOT engineers Monday.
"Some of these, you will start seeing within the next week," Hein said.
KDOT had done a similar study as recently as 2008 and made changes then, Hein said.
"It's not a freeway, it's an expressway," Hein said. "But it certainly has freeway speeds."
Ray Thomas, another speaker, said the recent accidents on K-254 signal a much larger statewide problem.
"Right-of-way violations are way out of control in Kansas," he said.
Thomas, a motorcyclist, cited the case of a friend, Kevin McVeigh — killed in 2006 when a Chevrolet Suburban turned in front of his motorcycle.
One of the accidents on K-254 involved an SUV turning in front of a motorcyclist.
The driver of the Suburban paid less than $100 in fines and court costs.
Thomas appealed to legislators to change the laws.
"We need to join the 16 other states that have adopted right-of-way violation enhancement laws," Thomas said.
Reps. John Grange, R-El Dorado, and David Crum, R-Augusta, were also at the meeting.
"If anyone wants to write the Legislature, I'm here," Grange said. "A lady asked about writing a letters, and they are very important, and we also may ask you to come up and testify. And yes, it does make a difference."