Kansas City, KS residents frustrated with speeding on Parallel Parkway
Posted August 9
KANSAS CITY, KS — After a deadly chain-reaction crash at the beginning of July, the cry for change from people who live along Parallel Parkway grew louder.
"The speeds are unbelievable," said Lloyd Siefkas.
Siefkas, who grew up around the area in Kansas City, KS says it's no longer safe to live in a three and a half mile stretch of the parkway between Hutton Road to the east and Kansas Highway 7 to the west.
His father has lived near the intersection for more than 30 years, but he is no longer able to drive. It is something Siefkas says he's happy about.
"It's the new speedway," he said on July 6 after Paul Scott, 68, of Tonganoxie, died.
"I watched the truck just flatten the car there was really nothing left," Don Hiatt said. He witnessed the deadly crash and said it could have been him if he pulled out a few seconds earlier.
The crashes, Siefkas said, are part of living near the intersection.
"You can hear the brakes squealing and the tires squealing before they hit the light and sometimes they stop and sometimes they don't," he said.
Hiatt said it's a busy intersection with traffic coming on and off the north-south K-7 Highway.
Kansas City, KS police are aware of the issue, but they say Parallel isn't the only trouble spot in the city when it comes to speeding.
"It's just such an open area that, yeah, we do get quite a few speeders that come through that area," said Master Sgt. Matt Cross.
The miles-long stretch does not have any stoplights, stop signs or a controlled intersection of any kind for east-west traffic.
According to Cross, Parallel Parkway is not the only major thoroughfare in the city that sees drivers coast at speeds higher than the posted limit. He points to State Avenue as another high speed, high traffic street.
"When you have multiple streets throughout your city where people come through, you're going to get speeding issues," Cross said. "We try to address every single one of them as often and as much as we can."
Cross, who is part of the traffic division of KCKPD said the division is currently at full force.
Right now, there are six officers during the day and six officers at night that patrol the city. One officer is on the overnight shift, watching for speeding drivers.
After KCTV5 News contacted the department about this issue, traffic enforcement was implemented for nine hours total over two days in late July.
Cross said officers issued 44 citations after stopping 35 cars; numbers that fall within the normal range for a street like Parallel Parkway.
Siefkas has ideas on how to improve Parallel Parkway and called Mayor Mark Holland's office the day Scott died in front of Siefkas' father's house.
"One thing we do not need is stoplights," he said.
What Siefkas wants to see is more police officers. He said KCKPD are not in the area as much as they used to be and their presence alone would curb the amount of speeding on the flat, four lane road near the Kansas Speedway and Legends shopping center.
He would also like to see a lower speed limit. And that is something the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS is looking in to.
A statement released to KCTV5 News said "the Public Works Department is going to collect data on this stretch of roadway in the next couple of months. The data will help the department evaluate the actual vehicle speeds, volume of traffic and other factors on Parallel Parkway."
In the same breath, the statement also said the data could yield a response opposite to what citizens are thinking.
"In many cases, the data and corresponding standards will lead to an increase in speed limits or the removal of stop intersection that are not necessary. Stop, or signalized, intersection are not solutions to speeding issues," the statement read.
Although that is a future plan, the city is already working the Kansas Department of Transportation to secure grant money which will go toward the intersection at K-7 Hwy. and Parallel Parkway.
Edwin Birch, the public information officer for the unified government, said if they can secure the funding, it'll come through between 2019 and 2020.
But what will residents like Siefkas and Hiatt do until a plan is in place?
"That's why I drive a big truck because if they are going to hit me, there is nothing I can do about it but at least I can protect myself," Siefkas said.
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