The Lancaster County Engineer's Office will begin safety studies on two county roads that are routes to local schools: North 148th Street and South 68th Street.
County commissioners this week approved the bid process for both safety studies, using about $30,000 in contingency funds, after County Engineer Pam Dingman recommended both corridors have similar issues: many inexperienced drivers going to and from schools and multiple deaths in crashes over the past decade.
The discussion arose after the death of 13-year-old Ryan Post in a crash on South 68th Street in late October. County Commissioner Deb Schorr, who has received numerous emails and calls suggesting specific safety improvements on South 68th Street, was seeking a safety study for that county road.
People have suggested reducing the speed or adding shoulders, curbs or lights, Schorr said at a County Board meeting this week.
A study could provide information on what changes might actually improve safety on the county road.
But Dingman cautioned against looking only at the South 68th Street corridor when there have been more accidents and more fatalities on the North 148th Street corridor, which carries students from Eagle to Waverly.
There have been four fatalities in three accidents on North 148th Street and three fatalities on South 68th Street in the past decade, she said.
Both roads carry a lot of traffic for county roads. Daily vehicle counts along South 68th Street range from 1,724 to 5,089. Daily counts on North 148th Street from O Street into Waverly range from 4,909 to 5,738.
“I think we should be cautious not to do spot projects. If we are going to look at the Norris corridor, we have to look at the Waverly corridor," she said.
And she warned that commissioners should think about how they will pay for any improvements recommended by a safety study when there are no state funds immediately available.
The state has committed its safety funds for the next four or five years, she said.
"If we do a study and the study says there is a problem, we have some obligation to move forward and do something about it,” Dingman said.
But just having the information would help the county know what to plan for, said Schorr.
And a safety study will not look at the role of distracted drivers, said Commissioner Todd Wiltgen. Distracted drivers can be dangerous on even the best designed road system, he said.
Dingman and several commissioners suggested the county needs to put together a distracted driver campaign to bring awareness to the danger.