Editorial: US-75 riddled with dangers

We’ve all been saying it for years — maybe at the water cooler, maybe at coffee with friends. But it needs to be said to those who control whether or not something gets done about it.

U.S. Highway 75, particularly from Holton to the Nebraska state line, is riddled with issues. It gets way too much traffic to be two lanes with no passing lanes and very few left turn lanes. But let’s not stop there, because it is plenty dangerous from Holton to Topeka as well. It may be four lanes, but it’s hardly safe.

Whether two lanes or four, a major highway like US-75 — with heavy large truck traffic, especially — should not have private drives, county highways and gravel roads leading directly onto it. Traveling from Topeka to Sabetha last week, we had at least three vehicles slow nearly to a stop in front of us to turn left into one of these drives. This is dangerous for that driver and everyone else on the road in that vicinity.

Two intersection studies have been done by KDOT at the northern and southern intersections of Sabetha. A 2014 study of the intersection at US-75 and 260th/176th Road — the All Star corner — recommended northbound and southbound left turn lanes and a northbound right turn taper — when “funding becomes available.” That was three years ago, and I can’t get a straight answer about when the recommendation might be considered for implementation, or even what “funding” it would entail to complete a project such as that. The newest report at the northern intersection makes similar recommendations — with new wording that states these recommendations should be considered “when improvements are programmed along US-75.”

I’m sure intersection studies have been done at the Jackson Heights corner, the Wetmore intersection and numerous others as well. And maybe some of the recommendations from these types of studies have actually been implemented. But let me tell you, the flashing lights and lowered speed at the Jackson Heights corner don’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I really doubt it does the parents of those student drivers either.

I have half a mind to request an intersection study be done at every single private drive, gravel road and county highway coming directly onto US-75. I imagine this would give KDOT 50-plus more intersection safety recommendations to disregard.

So what’s the point of this ramble-rant? I’m telling you all to take action. Stop talking about how dangerous Highway 75 is, and tell someone who can do something about it. Tell your legislator. Ask for results. Call KDOT; the number can be found in the continuation of my story on Page 8A of this week’s Herald. Demand a plan and results. If you think US-75 should be widened from Holton to Sabetha, sign the online petition at www.change.org.

Will we ever be able to make the roads accident free? No. There is inherent danger in driving, and we all carry the burden of being conscientious drivers to protect not only ourselves and our passengers but also everyone else sharing the road with us. This means stowing our phones at all times. This means using our signals, checking our mirrors and following the rules of the road.

We should all do our part, but we should also demand that our legislators and KDOT do their part. Contact information for our legislators is available below.

Amber Deters122 Posts

Amber Deters is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2005. She specializes in school board, election and legislative reporting, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Amber is a 2005 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications, print journalism sequence. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and three children.

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