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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Traffic light master plan proposed to city commission

This new plan may take several years to implement
Avery Johnson
City engineer Brian Johnson proposed a traffic light master plan to increase safety on Manhattan roads. This plan will improve communication between traffic signals.

Sitting behind the wheel, Kansas State student Russel Clark watched as drivers rushed the left turn headed north from Anderson onto Manhattan Avenue. Several drivers ran the red light, but the line waiting behind Clark was still substantial. There just isn’t enough time to turn. 

City engineer Brian Johnson proposed a traffic light master plan March 26 aiming to improve the communication between traffic signals throughout the city. The Manhattan Traffic System Master Plan presented by Johnson is filled with recommendations “provided for both short-term and mid-to-long-term.”  

“We developed the first-ever master plan of the traffic division of the public works,” Johnson said. “There’s four different main topics. One is the existing operations, traffic signal corridors, future upgrades to the system and then upgrades to the traffic operations center. It’s to help the traffic system function a little better.”

According to The Manhattan Traffic System Master Plan, “To further ITS [Intelligent Transportation System] in the City of Manhattan, the city should generally work together with regional transportation partners in further development of ITS and traffic management capabilities. This gives you buying power and gives area travelers a seamless transportation experience … move toward enhancing public traveler information beyond existing efforts including approaching from a regional and statewide perspective. This may include exploring partnerships for information dissemination, [continuing] to include technology and TSMO [Transportation System Management and Operations] within other city plans and programs such as transportation master plans, and safety programs.”

The plan doesn’t have a budget, but Johnson estimated that if implemented, the operations will cost around $500,000 a year “in outstanding maintenance items.”

“The plan identifies the need,” Johnson said. “The funding is what staff proposes to the commission to authorize the dedicated revenue strain. With budgets as tight as they are, carving off a half-million dollars is not easy right now.”

Jason Hilgers, deputy city manager, said the biggest challenge presented is creating “financial avenues to accomplish the plan.” 

“In referencing different revenue streams and different strategies, we get those improvements made throughout the community for the next 10 to 20 years,” Hilgers said. “ Sales tax can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. That 10-year tax will expire in 2026, so there’s an opportunity to renew that tax and dedicate some revenues toward traffic. There are also different strategies for other revenue streams that can be pursued and talked about with commissioning. … There will be options for them to consider and they can give us direction. No decisions or other action has been given. It’ll be a multi-year process.”

Clark said he would like for the traffic lights to be safer “because drivers themselves aren’t being safe about it.”

“People regularly run it after it’s already red, so maybe three cars can get through, but they force five or six through, which is a danger for sure,” Clark said. “I’m typically a patient person, but I know other people are not as patient.” 

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About the Contributor
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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