Sedgwick County decides to add lights to stop signs at 183rd and MacArthur

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Sedgwick County plans to add solar powered flashing beacons like this one to the stop signs on 183rd at MacArthur. Sedgwick County plans to add solar powered flashing beacons like this one to the stop signs on 183rd at MacArthur.

"People are going to be a lot safer with that light flashing up there," said Dean Berg about plans to install a flashing light above the stop signs on 183rd St at MacArthur Road.

After another serious accident at the intersection the county is now trying something different to warn drivers about an upcoming stop sign, though county engineers say the real problem is with distracted drivers, not signage.

"I'm going to be very, very happy, very relieved," Berg said.  He lives at the corner of 183rd and MacArthur.  "There's been some bad accidents that I think could have been prevented."

He's witnessed several accidents at the intersection, many of them landing on his front lawn, just as many of them fatal.  A year ago, a Wichita woman died in a fiery collision with a semi at that intersection.  In December of 2018, another fiery crash that took the lives of a Goddard couple.

Monday, the Bergs were once again picking up debris in their front yard left from a serious crash over the weekend.

"I don't know how the little girl made it," Dean Berg said.  "She must have had her seatbelt on and the airbags went off."

There were no life-threatening injuries this time around.  But the accident led to a renewed plea from the Bergs to add lights to the stop signs on 183rd Street.

"What we're going to do now is we're going to add a beacon to the top of that stop sign that flashes to draw attention to that," David Dennis, Sedgwick County Commissioner, told KAKE News Monday afternoon.

Sedgwick County has decided Monday morning, even though the extra large stop signs already surpassed state and federal requirements for the intersection, that it's time to add a flashing light above the signs.

But, Commissioner Dennis warns, it's not because the intersection itself is inherently dangerous.

"If you pull up to that stop sign today, you stop there, you can see both ways very well.  There's nothing obstructing your vision.  You've just got to stop at the stop sign," Dennis said.

That's the problem, people just not stopping. Dennis said in this age of distracted driving, drivers are the real problem at this intersection.  He pointed specifically to Sunday's accident.

"She didn't stop at the stop sign.  Evidently she was on the phone at the time and just completely missed the stop sign," he said.  "Unfortunately, because of cell phones, people are not paying attention to driving....We talked about it this morning and said what can we do at this point in time?"

Berg says he doesn't care why the county is making the change.  He's just happy that it's finally happening. 

"It's going to prevent accidents, I'm sure," he said.

The new lights on the stop signs will cost the county about $5,000 to buy and install.  They should be in place within a month at the most, maybe within a few days.