Limited visibility prompts new stop signs

Dale Hogg, Great Bend Tribune, Kan.
·2 min read

Feb. 23—Barton County will install new stop signs at the intersection of SW 60 Road and SW 20 Avenue in Liberty Township, stopping east and westbound traffic on SW 60 Road. The County Commission approved the action when it met Monday morning.

County Engineer Barry McManaman said he had been contacted by the Road and Bridge Department about a Liberty Township official who had concerns over the junction south of Great Bend. "I conducted an engineering study and determined that the sight distance is limited by an oilfield tank battery and a row of trees in the northwest quadrant of the intersection."

Since SW 20 Avenue marks the boundary between Liberty and South Bend townships, McManaman also contacted South Bend officials. They had no problem with installing the signs.

The county carries liability protection in case of accidents. But, McManaman said now that this issue has arisen, the county could face additional liability should it not act on the request.

However, Terry Gaunt, who owns three of the four corners involved, said he is not aware of there ever being a crash there. "I see no reason to put up a stop sign."

He said he drives through there every day. And, there are plenty of intersections elsewhere that are just as bad or worse that don't have stop signs.

"If you are traveling at the speed limit, you are not going to see anyone," McManaman said. This is particularly the case for those approaching the corner headed south on SW 20 Avenue with views blocked by the trees and tanks.

He based his determination on guidelines from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' "Green Book." At 55 miles per hour, the sight distance should be 450 feet, something he feels is not met at the intersection.

It would be a problem even at slower speeds, he said.

"People just need to learn how to drive," Gaunt said. If people paid attention, the visibility would be adequate.

Besides, Gaunt doubted the stop signs would be enforced.

Commissioners appreciated Gaunt's comments.

"We always like to listen to constituents," District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. But, "we don't want to put the county or township in any more liability."