After a few months of operating only as flashing lights, a traffic signal at Seventh and Ottawa streets is back in normal operation.
The signal was reinstated as a result of a decision made Tuesday by Leavenworth city commissioners.
In September, commissioners agreed to go forward with the process of removing traffic signals at Seventh and Ottawa and Ottawa and Broadway. As part of the process, the signals were switched to flashing lights to allow for a 90-day evaluation period during which public comment was accepted.
Commissioners decided Tuesday to keep the traffic signal at Seventh and Ottawa streets and go forward with removal of the signal at Broadway and Ottawa.
Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens, who serves on the city's traffic safety committee, said city staff received a number of comments regarding the proposed removal of the lights.
Commissioners were presented with a synopsis of the comments as well as a copy of a letter from the senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church & School.
The Rev. Ed Mease expressed concern about the removal of the lights, writing that the signal at Ottawa and Seventh Street was particularly on his mind because his church operates an after-school ministry, Kid's Connection, in that area.
Kitchens said a study arranged through the Kansas Department of Transportation's Traffic Engineering Assistance Program found that the signals at both intersections are no longer warranted.
He said there are no state rules that apply regarding the removal of the lights.
"This is entirely a local decision," Kitchens said.
Mayor Larry Dedeke asked if the signal at Seventh and Ottawa could operate as a pedestrian crossing even if the light was not switched back to normal operation for traffic.
Public Works Director Mike McDonald said the light can be modified to operate as a pedestrian crossing.
He later said the existing pedestrian crossing buttons at that intersection have been inoperable as the light has been flashing.
Commissioner Phil Urban asked if the signal at Seventh and Ottawa can be set up so the light on Seventh Street remains green unless there's traffic on Ottawa.
McDonald said that's the way the signal was set up prior to the evaluation period.
Urban said he believes there is enough traffic from Fort Leavenworth and enough businesses on Seventh Street to warrant keeping the signal at Seventh and Ottawa. He suggested getting rid of the signal at Broadway and Ottawa.
Dedeke said he was concerned about Kid's Connection.
"We've got to take care of the kids," he said.
He also suggested removing the signal on Broadway and keeping the lights on Seventh Street.
The five commissioners voted unanimously to reinstate the signal at Seventh and Ottawa and remove the one at Broadway and Ottawa.
Page 2 of 2 - The light at Seventh and Ottawa was back to normal Wednesday. It will take about a week to remove the signal at Broadway and Ottawa because stop signs will have to be set up at that location, according to Melissa Bower, public information officer for the city.