With the extension of Kentucky Avenue completed, the City of Platte City plans to keep its promise of learning more about the still-developing traffic patterns.
The Platte City Board of Aldermen approved a planned expenditure of $15,300 plus reimbursable expenses for TranSystems of Kansas City, Mo. to conduct a traffic study. Two separate projects were completed in the second half of 2016, creating a new portion of Kentucky Avenue running east from Highway 92 between QuikTrip and McDonald’s and another new portion running west from the previous terminus at Bent Oak Court all the way to Fourth Street.
The study will start after a few months of increased usage, allowing ample time for residents to start using the new arterial east-west roadway long considered a priority in Platte City’s master plan.
“TranSystems is a good company, and we need to do it; we told people we were going to do it,” Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt said. “By the time they get started, there will be a couple of months so the traffic patterns can develop.”
While the Kentucky Avenue project affected about three quarters of a mile of roadway, the study will actually focus on only a very small portion.
Officials expect high volume traffic areas near the Platte County R-3 School District and the Platte Valley Plaza retail area at the Platte Falls Road intersection will be most affected, not the new sections. The study will focus on the Platte Falls-Kentucky intersection and the portion of Kentucky Avenue running from Highway 92 west to Bent Oak Court.
The study outcome will identify and quantify the new traffic flow and volume in this area, which generally is at its heaviest during the school year and the open and close of the school day, and will identify options to address any flow or safety concerns identified in the study.
The study does not include development of construction cost estimates for any identified traffic mitigation options.
The limited amount of roadway from Highway 92 to Platte Falls Road is cause for concern with an already identified safety concerns at the non-signalized intersection.
“One of the first things they look at are the incidents in that stretch and what causes the incidents,” Gehrt said.
The board of alderman’s public safety subcommittee recently recommended making the speed limit for Kentucky Avenue to Fourth Street at 35 mph. Currently, the limit is at 25 mph, but board members noted that other four-lane roadways in Platte City operate at 35 mph.
Platte City Police Department chief Carl Mitchell expressed reservations about the change, recommending to keep the speed limit at 25 or upping it to 30 because it’s such a small stretch that will also include flashing signals for a 20 mph school zone around Compass Elementary.
The board approved the speed limit change to 35 mph at Tuesday’s meeting, as well.
Gehrt doesn’t necessarily expect the study to provide further guidance.
“We will probably not get a speed limit recommendation unless it’s different than what we are proposing,” Gehrt said.
The city issued a request for proposals on the study in December with TranSystems ultimately the only respondent with a formal bid. Gehrt said the cost came in “far less” than his initial expectations.
TranSystems is familiar with Platte City’s layout, having participated in the 2015-16 Highway 92 corridor study jointly funded through the city and Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). TranSystems is also working with the city to provide traffic engineering support for the East Side Planning Project, which seeks to spur development in a large area of city and privately owned land east of Interstate 29 between Highway 92 and HH Highway.
“This is a study that we need to get done,” Gehrt said. “We have a company that is familiar with Platte City, and we have the funding within the Kentucky extension project for this.”