New stop signs surprise motorists

— Heavy traffic on a U.S. 54 off ramp has prompted the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to erect all-way stop signs in Holts Summit at the intersection of the U.S. 54 eastbound ramp at Route AA and Route OO.

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Dale Baumhoer, a MoDOT safety employee, is shown at the U.S. 54 eastbound off ramp at Route OO and Route AA. “Be Prepared to Stop” signs were removed after local residents became familiar with the new stop signs at the intersection.

Holts Summit area motorists were surprised that a stop sign suddenly appeared on the frequently traveled route. Some motorists traveling along Route AA and Route OO were running the stop sign, prompting MoDOT officials to ask Holts Summit police to increase traffic surveillance of the intersection.

Holts Summit Administrator Brian Crane said several traffic tickets have been written in the area. Crane said MoDOT makes decisions about traffic controls at the intersection.

Garrett Depue, a MoDOT traffic studies specialist, said the intersection is unusual because it has more traffic from the U.S. 54 off ramp than the overpass that carries Route AA and Route OO.

Depue said the guardrail and concrete barrier on the overpass also shortens the sight distance for someone in a small vehicle wanting to make a left turn from the eastbound U.S. 54 off ramp. The new stop sign will reduce this danger.

Depue said the stop signs were installed mainly to increase safety and to reduce the number of accidents at the intersection.

Depue said there is not enough volume of traffic to justify and electric traffic signal at the intersection. He said the cost of installing a traffic signal also is a factor.

“A preferred solution to this intersection is to construct a roundabout. We find roundabouts are much more efficient and are safer compared to traffic signals. Roundabouts are not the best solution in high volume traffic. But in this case a roundabout is the preferred option at this intersection,” Depue said. He added a roundabout was not chosen at this time because the department lacks the funds to construct one at the intersection.

“We felt that making this intersection a three way stop is an intermediate step to a roundabout. It has been identified as a good location for a roundabout. But at this point there has been no design work or funding targeted for a roundabout at this intersection,” Depue said.

After installing the stop signs last week, MoDOT erected temporary signs approaching the intersection warning motorists of a stop sign ahead.

Dale Baumhoer, a MoDOT employee, removed the temporary “Be Prepared to Stop” signs Wednesday morning.

“The temporary warning signs have been up about a week. And people are getting used to the stop signs now,” Baumhoer said.

MoDOT recently completed a widening project on the eastbound U.S. 54 off ramp and also installed three stop signs at the intersection.

Garrett Depue, a MoDOT traffic studies specialist, sent a letter to Holts Summit Mayor Lucas Fitzpatrick on Oct. 14 informing the mayor that the state had hired a contractor to construct a new right turn lane for the U.S. 54 eastbound ramp to separate the left and right turn movements at the intersection.

MoDOT crews also striped the roadway and installed new signs for the off ramp. The project began Oct. 18 and is now complete.

MoDOT crews installed new all-way stop signs and has painted new stop bars to change this intersection into a three-way stop.

Depue said Route OO changes to AA at the center of the U.S. 54 overpass at intersection. It also is known as East Simon Boulevard in Holts Summit.

One of the stop signs is at the top of the eastbound U.S. 54 off ramp left turn lane to travel west on AA. The recently constructed new right turn separate lane has a yield sign at the eastbound U.S. 54 off ramp.

Drivers traveling east and west on Route AA must stop at the intersection.

Westbound drivers on Route AA must stop if they plan to continue through the intersection. But if they want to turn right to enter the eastbound U.S. 54 on-ramp there is a separate lane for them.

Depue said the department constructed a separate right turn lane at the top of the ramp with a yield sign to help divert some of the heavy traffic off the left turn lane at the intersection.

“During heavy traffic periods in the evening,” Depue said, “both on Route AA and from the U.S. 54 off ramp, it was hard for people to make a left turn. This caused vehicles to back up all the way to U.S. 54 and sometimes on U.S. 54. This is very serious and something we do not want to occur because it is extremely dangerous.”

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