Kellogg planning needs foresight

Perhaps familiarity will ease contempt for the new traffic reality at Armour near Towne East Square. But especially with the Wichita City Council having approved the design concept for another tricky East Kellogg section Tuesday, it would be best if the city could figure out a real Armour fix now, as it guards against more such surprises.

Since the freeway's Rock section opened November, the frontage roads on either side of Kellogg at Armour have clogged with drivers trying to go in all directions, requiring frustrating waits to clear the intersection.

It's a bit like the old endless stoplight at Kellogg and Rock, only complicated with obstructed views, lane changes and confused commuters. It's also a safety hazard.

At this point, it's hard to believe that stoplight adjustments will suffice; something more costly and complicated may be necessary. Simply avoiding Armour in favor of other Kellogg access points is hard, too, at least for those averse to backtracking (or Eastborough). The businesses that suffered through many years of Kellogg construction deserve better than this new status quo.

As one irked driver observed in Saturday's Eagle, it's not as if engineers had little time to think through the Armour intersection and design it right. After all, Kellogg's transformation from 19-stoplight street to crosstown expressway dates from the '80s.

And as the council unanimously approved the design concept for Kellogg from Cypress to 127th Street East, as well as a budget revision for Kellogg from 111th Street West to 143rd Street West, it was hard not to fret about the potential for more confusion, especially at what city engineer Jim Armour described as the "front door" to Hawker Beechcraft at Webb and Kellogg.

True, there are "numerous complexities" in that East Kellogg stretch, as public works director Chris Carrier told the council, because of the quarter-mile proximity of a Kansas Turnpike exit and the Webb-Kellogg intersection. It was clear from the council presentation that every possible scenario was considered, including closing the turnpike exit.

But with the turnpike exit getting the interchange according to the plan, local drivers will get circuitous access to Webb and local taxpayers will get $10 million in added cost.

"I think we've come up with the best option," said council member Sue Schlapp.

Citizens can hope so.

A motorists' learning curve is to be expected. Foresight by planners now can take pressure off drivers later, though, freeing them to appreciate every mile of Kellogg for the long-sought, 60-mph marvel it's fast becoming.