Project would ease traffic at city's most dangerous intersections.
One of the most dangerous intersections in Pratt could be headed for a makeover that should help relieve some of the hazards at First and Main.
Funds are available though the Kansas Department of Transportation that could be used to widened First Street to add a left turn land for both east and westbound lanes at First and Main, said Scott Mullen, KDOT area engineer.
First and Main, as well as First and Jackson, have both been designated as "High Accident Intersections" and qualify for grant money from the Federal Highway Administration and distributed through KDOT.
The Pratt City Commissioners have seen the KDOT information and are discussing the matter but have made no commitment to the project at this time.
If the commissioners approve the project, the grant would be 90-10 with KDOT covering 90 percent of the cost and the city of Pratt covering the other 10 percent. The preliminary engineering and design costs would also go to KDOT, Mullen said.
The basic plan would call for an additional 12 feet be added to First Street on both sides of Main. This would create two left turn lanes at the intersection for east and westbound traffic, Mullen said.
The expansion would probably happen within just the one hundred block on both sides.
It is unknown if the 12 feet would come from both the north and south sides of the street or if it would come from just one side. That decision would be made after the area was surveyed and designers had done their work.
From past experience, Mullen estimates it would take from 18 to 24 months to get the survey complete and have the project ready to put out for bid.
Much would have to be done after the design was complete before construction could start. Utilities would have to be moved and right-of-way would have to be bought prior to construction.
With the time needed for survey, design, moving utilities and right-of-way purchases, it would probably take a couple of years before construction could start after the project was approved.
If the project is approved, Mullen estimates it would take from 12 to 15 weeks to complete. The actual construction time of the project would depend on many factors.
Many of the accidents at First and Main are caused from drivers weaving to avoid turning vehicles, especially trucks. A dedicated left hand turn lane would help alleviate the need to swerve and help make the intersection safer.
"Those two intersections, Main and Jackson, aren't working well together," Mullen said. "There are lots of accidents when vehicles turn left."
The new turn lanes would help reduce the number of accidents at First and Jackson.
With a protected left turn at First and Main, it should encourage drivers to go one block further to turn left and reduce the accidents at First and Jackson.