The Leavenworth County sheriff likened it to planning for a hurricane.

The Leavenworth County sheriff likened it to planning for a hurricane.

“We know it’s going to hit landfall,” Sheriff Andy Dedeke said.

Dedeke was referring to traffic that county officials believe will result in the coming weeks as people visit sunflower fields at Grinter Farms, 24154 Stillwell Road.

He and other county officials met Monday with the Leavenworth County Commission to discuss plans for dealing with the additional traffic.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 people visited the sunflower fields last year, causing significant traffic backups.

“Last year, we did not plan for it,” Commission Chairman Doug Smith said. “We got hit pretty hard.”

Dedeke compared the level of traffic to the turnout for a Kansas City Chiefs football game.

Smith said county officials do not know for sure when the sunflowers at Grinter Farms will bloom.

A message posted Friday on the Grinter Farms Facebook page indicated buds are starting to develop on the crop of sunflowers, but they are still about a week away from blooming.

Public Works Director David Lutgen previously presented a traffic control plan that would utilize message board signs to encourage motorists to follow specific routes as well as the use of barricades.

Lutgen obtained a bid from Traffic Zone Services, Kansas City, Kansas, for setting up and removing the traffic control devices. He said the company would charge $5,850 for each weekend the equipment is used.

Commissioner Bob Holland said he did not support spending that much money. He said the county likely will not bring in much money from having the large crowds visit the sunflower fields.

“We basically make very little on this,” he said.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber asked Dedeke if the use of message boards would assist the efforts of the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office.

Dedeke said he does not believe the message boards will be beneficial because drivers will be heading to the same location.

Commissioners took no action on the proposal to use the services of Traffic Zone Services.

Lutgen said at a minimum he would like to put up barricades on two gravel roads, keeping them open only for local traffic. He said this can be handled by Public Works Department staff. He said he is looking for volunteers to work during Labor Day weekend to man the barricades.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said the county government does not have the manpower and resources to handle that increased traffic that may result from the sunflower attraction. But county officials are trying to mitigate the problem as much as possible.

“We’ll prepare the best we can,” he said.

Smith said he believes there will be more traffic to Grinter Farms this year.

Dedeke said people came from as far away as Maine last year to see the sunflowers. He said the attraction is being advertised on social media.

“All we can do is plan and see what happens,” Smith said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR