Highway 156 and Jennie Barker Road intersection to get traffic signals

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
The Garden City Administrative Center is located at 301 N. Eighth St.

Stop signs and eventually traffic signal lights are coming to the intersection of Highway 156 and Jennie Barker Road to make it a four-way stop. 

Burt Morey, Kansas Department of Transportation engineer, presented an official report on controlling the intersection at the Garden City Commission's regular meeting Tuesday. 

For engineering and safety reasons, the intersection in the past it wasn't appropriate or signalization, Morey said, now it is and he and KDOT have been working with city manager Matt Allen and the Garden City Public Works Department for solution and have submitted plans for traffic signals. 

"There will probably be some lead time to get that done," he said. "In the meantime we will be putting stop signs out on 156, it'll be a four-way controlled intersection until the traffic signals are installed, because that's the next logical progression."

Morey made the suggestion that the city consider putting in a roundabout rather than traffic signals when the time comes, as he believes a roundabout is the safer solution.

An intersection has what's known as contact points, More said. For an example of a north, south, east, west route you have the north-south direction, the east-west direction, that's a contact point.

"In a typical four lane intersection there's up to 32 conflict points, in a roundabout that can be reduced down to about eight," he said. 

Collisions that do occur at a roundabout, and there will be collisions as there are collisions at any four-way intersection, will be at a slower speed and will not be a T-bone or a head-on, they will be more of an angled crash, More said. There is less potential for serious injuries. 

One advantage to a roundabout to the traveling public is there is no need to come to a complete stop when there's no other traffic present, Morey said. 

He hopes the city considers a roundabout. 

Commissioner Troy Unruh was concerned about cost, stating that was a concern the Commission has in the past when discussing roundabouts, that they could be twice the price of a general traffic signal.

Morey said it's true that roundabouts are more expensive, they could be up to five times more expensive, but he would still prefer installing it over a regular intersection.

" I would tell you right now we would pay for a roundabout, KDOT, 100%," he said. "That's how strongly I feel about it."

In other business the Commission approved a resolution to set a time and place for a public hearing to consider establishing a Tax Increment Finance District in Finney County, outside of the corporate limits of Garden City.

Lona DuVall, President/CEO of the Finney County Economic Development Corporation said while the city has dealt with TIF districts before, this one is a little different in that it isn't within the city limits, but state statute doesn't allow counties to establish TIFs, they have to authorize the city to actually make the designation. 

The development of the property is located at the northeast quadrant of the north interchange of U.S. Highway 50/400 and U.S. Highway 83. 

DuVall said a TIF allows a land developer to start with a baseline of the property value, what it's valued at today and the taxes that are currently being collected on it will continue to be collected like normal.

Additional property taxes are collected as it develops, for example if a parcel of land is valued at $100 and then a building is added it's now appraised at $1,000, that $900 increment would be given back to the developer to help them offset some of those eligible expenses.  

Eligible expenses relate to infrastructure, DuVall said, basically anything that's considered horizontal such as streets, water, wastewater, electricity, sidewalks, light poles, etc. A TIF does not apply to the construction of an actual building. 

The land where the proposed development is has no infrastructure nearby, so it's going to take a significant amount of infrastructure to make the property actually developable for commercial and light industrial project, which is what the developer, Tim Hanigan is looking to do, DuVall said. 

Hanigan said his background has been in smaller, commercial developments, but it struck in a while back that there are few opportunities for commercially zoned lots, especially those that are larger than one acre, they're practically non-existent in the area. 

That's why he chose to develop this piece of land and see if TIF could work, Hanigan said. 

"This corner between 50 and 83 received not only considerable traffic but it received more truck traffic than some sections of I-70 in the western part of the state," he said. "I think there's a real opportunity her for the community to open up an area that would be suited not just to outside entities but also to some local entities who may choose to relocate into a higher area of visibility."

DuVall said a common misconception of a TIF is that individual businesses within the district don't have to pay property tax, that is untrue. They all have to pay taxes as that's the only way the tool works, a taxing entity has to collect property taxes in order for the developer to get some of his upfront costs back. 

"We've chosen as a community not to put out public dollars in the hope that we can develop," she said. "In the past, and in this instance as well, we've chosen to partner with private developers and give them the tools that we can to help them make the project happen, but certainly ... it's on the developer to make this project work and to get these lots sold and developed out as quickly as possible just the same as it is in the RHID tool, they need to develop quickly in order to start those property tax receipts."