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Traffic Control and Intersection Improvements

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The Kansas City Public Works Streets and Traffic Division is taking a fresh look at the roadways of Kansas City.

Through modern traffic engineering and focus on the changing demographics of our neighborhoods, business districts and social hubs, we can reconfigure streets to represent the needs of citizens and visitors to Kansas City. Public Works partners with citizens and stakeholders to ensure safe, efficient access for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Through implementing the right solution in the right place at the right time, we can change how Kansas City moves.

View the KCMO Traffic Engineering and Operations Manual 

Data Collection

The Kansas City Public Works Department carefully monitors each of the city’s 855 intersections to ensure safe, efficient travel for drivers, bicyclists and motorists. Traffic control changes with the changing needs of an area. Public Works traffic engineers observe vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic at intersections, collect accident data and use guidelines established by the City and the Federal Highway Association to determine what traffic control best serves a given intersection.

Traffic Control Options

The Public Works Department uses a range of traffic control options throughout the City.  Effective traffic control ensures that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians can access a roadway safely and conveniently.

Inappropriate traffic control can worsen traffic safety, resulting in slowed traffic or even accidents.

4 way stop photo

A four-way stop is the most restrictive traffic control short of closing a street. This maintains traffic in areas with steady speeds and traffic levels.

2-way stop photo

A two-way stop tends to be most effective on intersections where one street has significantly less traffic than another. This ensures that drivers wait for a gap while maintaining steady traffic flow. 

traffic signal photo

 Traffic signals increase the ability of an intersection to handle large amounts of traffic. Unjustified traffic signals are shown to cause excessive delays and increase the risk of rear-end collisions.




Unwarranted Traffic Signals

traffic signal study photo

In many cases, as neighborhoods change existing traffic signals are determined to be an inappropriate means of traffic control at a given intersection. When this occurs, City traffic engineers perform a fresh study on the intersection and determine which form of traffic control will best serve the area. 

The Federal Highway Administration's Manual On Traffic Control Devices serves as the guide for municipalities around the country to determine which traffic control device should be in place at a given intersection. In order to place a traffic signal, several warrants must be met including:

  • Eight-Hour Vehicular Volume
  • Four-Hour Vehicular Volume
  • Peak Hour Traffic Volume
  • Pedestrian Volume
  • School Crossing
  • Coordinated Signal System
  • Crash Experience
  • Roadway Network
  • Intersection Near a Grade Crossing

If any one of the above warrants are met a traffic signal will remain in place.

The Public Works Department has determined that almost three hundred traffic signals in the City do not effectively control traffic. This is due to changes in traffic volume and development in adjacent areas. Public Works collects data on all intersections in the city every three to five years to determine whether the traffic control mechanism in place suits the intersection in its current state. A detailed list of unwarranted traffic signals is kept and referred to as signal removal processes are pursued.

The public will be contacted regularly throughout any changes to traffic signals. The Public Works Department values the input of the public and works to meet the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and adjacent residents.

The city bases prioritization of signal removal on many factors that include but are not limited to:

  • Safety failure of equipment
  • Accident analysis
  • Major changes to development in the area resulting in traffic volume increase
  • Citizen observation and request for removal

Signal Removal Process

Once a traffic signal is identified for removal testing, the public is notified through various methods:

  • A postcard is sent to nearby residents and businesses 30 days prior.
  • A board or sign will be placed at the intersection notifying the public that the signal is under testing for removal soon.
  • A press release is distributed to the media to assist in the public notification process.

Red Flashing Stage

  • Before city staff removes signal heads, existing traffic signals are adjusted to flash red so the intersection can be tested as a four way stop.
  • During that time, staff monitors the intersection both on and off-site.