OLATHE, Kan. — On Thursday the Johnson County Board of Commissioner voted 6-1 to approve increasing the speed limit for multiple roads in the unincorporated portion of the county.
Johnson County Public Works partnered with the sheriff’s department to conduct a countywide speed limit study on incorporated roads. Of 45 segments of roadways reviewed, 13 met the county’s criteria to increase the speed limit.
Jeff Vose with Public Works said during the study, it was noted a majority of drivers were exceeding the posted speed limit.
“All the segments in the resolution have significant evidence of noncompliance of the existing 35 mph speed limits by having 85th percentile speeds in the 43-54 mph range,” Vose said.
Jennifer Williams lives on Moonlight Road and said she frequently sees drivers acting reckless and speeding. Williams requested the board remove a portion of Cedar Niles Road from the list of roads scheduled to have increased speeds, but her request was not granted.
“They are speeding, and I think the solution on that road is to enforce the speeding instead of just letting them go faster, especially since everything out there is 35 mph,” Williams said.
Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara was the single opposing vote. O’Hara requested a number of roads be removed from the list, but did not have enough support from the rest of the board.
“These roadways just are not built for speed. I understand that people go over the speed limit, but the natural response is, ‘Well if the speed limit is increased, then I can go 5 more miles over that, and I won’t get a ticket,’” O’Hara said.
Sheriff Calvin Hayden said his department uses traffic counts and accident information to identify problem areas, but staffing is often the biggest factor when it comes to enforcing the speed limit.
“It’s a tough deal to crack, because we have one officer per district. That is very difficult to pick and choose where we do enforcement,” Hayden said. “We try to do it where there’s high traffic areas so we can have more impact. We try to look like we’re everywhere, even though we can’t be.”
Vose said speed limit signs will be marked with a flag or flasher to notify drivers of the changes.