Wayne White
| Managing Editor

LYNDON—Law-abiding citizens might someday drive slower on Osage County’s gravel roads if a plan by county commissioners becomes reality. But even with a speed limit change, non-law-abiding drivers will likely continue to drive too fast, commissioners agreed.

A discussion about changing speed limits on country roads gained momentum Monday after Glen Tyson, county road and bridge supervisor, told commissioners about a request from residents near Pomona Lake to lower the speed limit inside Pomona Heights subdivision.

“They’re probably right, it needs to be slower,” said Osage County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall. “But legally they should pay for a traffic study.”

Tyson noted that some of the county’s subdivisions have posted speed limits, but he did not know if traffic studies had been conducted.

“Some of them might have just put in signs,” Kuykendall said.

Kuykendall steered the discussion to county and township gravel roads.
“I think they’re all too fast at 55,” he said, “even the county roads.”

Kuykendall noted that if the county or other government entity planned to change the speed limit on a specific road, the state requires a speed study to be conducted at the expense of the requesting entity. But pointing out that Shawnee County had blanketed its roads with lower speed limits, he said he believed there is a method of changing all roads without speed studies, such as with a county resolution.

Later during the meeting, commissioners met with Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn and questioned her about her opinion of the proper speed for county roads.

Dunn said 40 to 45 mph, “at most, would be a safe gravel road speed limit.”

“That’s one thing we get a lot of calls on is people driving fast on gravel roads,” Dunn said. “Unless it’s otherwise posted, it’s 55 mph.”

“There are some roads that people drive faster,” she said. “On some of these roads 20 mph is too much.”

“We’re seriously discussing putting all gravel roads in the county at some other speed limit,” Kuykendall said.

Dunn asked about roads that now have posted speed limits, such as 189th Street that is posted at 30 mph to regulate the speed of trucks going to and from quarries along that road.

“Are you going to leave it at 30 or go back up to 40?” she asked.

Kuykendall said posted roads would not change; the resolution could be written to apply only to non-posted roads.

Dunn said most speeders on 189th Street that receive citations from the sheriff’s office, are not truck drivers.

“Because truck drivers got a way to tell each other we’re there,” she said.
Osage County Commissioner Carl Meyer said many drivers do not obey speed limit signs on the county’s blacktop roads or highways.

“Like Auburn Road out of Burlingame is 50 mph,” Meyer said. “If you drive 50 mph everybody passes you. Or drive over here on 31 highway, you drive 55 mph and everyone passes you.”

“Regardless of what you do,” Meyer said, “they’re going to exceed the speed limit.”

The other commissioners nodded in agreement.

Commissioners instructed Tyson to check with county engineers to determine the kind of signage that would be needed to make the change. They requested Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones to research the procedure necessary to change the speed limits without traffic studies.

In other business, commissioners:

• approved a bid of 2.77 annual percentage rate for a lease purchase agreement for two motor graders. Citizens State Bank, Lyndon, was the winning bidder for the three-year agreements that will be used to purchase two John Deere motor graders. One is a 2010 model costing $142,500 after trade in; the other is a 2009 model costing $129,276 after trade in. Other bidders were First Security Bank at 3.99 percent, and Lyndon State Bank at 3.5 percent.

• met with Sherry Coffman regarding the purchase of a furnace for the Vassar schoolhouse. Commissioners decided to purchase a furnace costing $6,150 from Freunds Service, to be paid from the federal land entitlement fund.

• approved an agreement with ESRI to provide maintenance for graphical information system software in the county’s planning and zoning department, at a cost of $1,000.

• approved the purchase of a Sony digital camera for the sheriff’s office from Wolf’s Camera, at a cost of $660.93.

• appointed Raylen Phelon as Melvern Township’s clerk, to fill a vacant position. Phelon won the position in the Nov. 2 election, but will now fill the remaining two months of the current term.

• called for a special meeting to be held Nov. 17 due to commissioners and other county officers attending a meeting of the Kansas Association of Counties next Monday.

• agreed to schedule a public hearing on American Medical Response’s request to increase user fees by six percent. Kuykendall said that if no citizens appear at the hearing in opposition to the increase, he would likely agree to the proposal. A tentative date of Dec. 6 was suggested for the hearing, but AMR personnel are to be consulted before the date is confirmed.

• met with Bill Persinger, executive director of Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas, who reported the center is in better financial condition than was reported last year.

• began initial discussions to update the county’s neighborhood revitalization plan.