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Traffic study for stop signs, speed on Reservation Road

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News

Ellis County commissioners plan a traffic study to improve safety for drivers on Reservation Road in the southeast part of the county.

The study will look at the need for stop signs and speed limit signs where the two-lane sandy road intersects with side streets.

That decision came during discussion of Big Creek Estates, a new housing subdivision planned for southeast of Hays.

The new development, which won the county’s approval Monday evening, is to the east of the existing Buffalo Hills Addition. It allows for 13 lots.

The development is the first for real estate company Platinum Group LLC, of Hays, led by Adam Pray.

The commissioners in December withheld their approval for the development, telling Pray he needed a drainage study and a traffic study to prevent roads from washing out and to ensure safety on subdivision roads intersecting with Reservation Road.

The drainage study was presented to the commission Monday evening at their regular weekly meeting at the Ellis County Administrative Center downtown. 

The traffic study was no longer needed because Pray eliminated the road in his planned subdivision that would have intersected with Reservation Road.

That means all the issues are handled, according to interim county administrator Darin Myers.

“The drainage study shows that the proper amount and size culvert will remove the amount of water that is in that development,” Myers told the commissioners. “And the public works director has also reviewed that and believes it is sufficient.”

Also, Pray has agreed to build a private cul-de-sac to county specifications, Myers said.

Traffic study needed

The commissioners decided to seek another traffic study after hearing about Reservation Road issues, particularly from Ellis County public works director Brendan Mackay, who recently replaced the retiring Bill Ring.

“The biggest issue we face out there currently is people parking on the road surface so we’re not able to maintain it correctly,” Mackay said. “When I went to drive the area out there earlier last week, and our truck, we almost had to pull the mirrors in because there were cars parked on both sides of the road, which is a violation of Kansas statute, but I can’t enforce that.”

Side roads entering Reservation Road don’t have stop signs, particularly Logan, Josephine and Big Creek. Ring and Mackay have both pointed out that despite a speed limit of 55 mph on Reservation Road, those vehicles must yield to cars pulling out on their right. 

“If I lived there, I’d like to see stop signs and stuff, but once again, that cost would be on the county to have that done,” Mackay said. “My opinion, it should have been done, not by Mr. Pray, but by previous developments. There wasn’t a lot of future planning on these. They just keep adding up, and these issues can pile and pile and pile, and then unfortunately in this case, it was kind of dumped in your lap.”

Reservation Road is a washboard, said one person in the audience at the meeting, adding “You couldn’t drive 50 as it is,” he said.

“You wouldn’t have any suspension left,” added James Graham, who lives in the Buffalo Hills Addition.

Commissioner Dean Haselhorst said Pray had held up his end of the deal since the previous commission meeting.

“I think we as a county need to probably step up and put some controlled intersections in there,” Haselhorst said. “Not only speed limit signs, but there need to be some stop signs added in there too.”

Not in my backyard

The commission approved the final plat for Big Creek Estates after hearing from James Graham, a resident at 2217 Clay Drive, who outlined reasons not to approve it.

In opposing the development, Graham said the planned and existing roads can’t handle increased traffic from 13 new homes; drainage isn’t sufficient to guarantee against flooding and closed roads; it will put stricter covenants and split an existing lot; existing water sources might run short with more homes and water wells; and it would cause erosion and destroy habitat for deer, pheasant and turkey.

“I want it to be known that I want to see Ellis County and Hays grow,” Graham said. “I think it’s a great place to live and a great place to raise a family. I do feel, however, that this is not the place for development to occur. I think that there’s plenty of other more suitable locations that can be found.”

County Commissioner Neal Younger expressed concern about flooding shutting down Reservation Road. Younger said additional growth would make the flooding situation worse.

“About every 50 to 100 years we do have a flood, that I don’t know that you can plan for,” Pray said. “If you have a suggestion, I’m pretty open-minded to any suggestions.”

County Commissioner Butch Schlyer had a different view.

“Commissioner Neal I don’t share as much concern that you have about the flooding issue with Reservation Road,” Schlyer said. “We saw that back in 1993, we had a lot a lot of water in ’93, and to make a contingency plan for every place in the county that might flood over 20 or 30 years is just really difficult to do.”

Schlyer said it would be better to look at the county’s emergency management system and see if there’s a plan in the event residents need to be evacuated. 

“Unless we’re going to just elevate the living daylights out of the road,” Schlyer said. “I know there is an issue there, but I’m not willing to let that issue block this development either.”

Despite the washboard, Haselhorst said the speed and stop signs need to be addressed on Reservation Road.

“I know that sometimes that can be a racetrack for some individuals,” Haselhorst said.