Medians on Stockton Hill Road installed for safety

Turning against traffic leads to many automobile accidents, including accidents on Stockton Hill Road, Larry Butler, Kingman police chief, said.

"Wherever there is traffic congestion and drivers making turns, accidents are more likely," Butler said.

"In large cities medians prevent drivers from making turns."

Seven of the nine intersections in Kingman with the most accidents were on Stockton Hill Road, according to the Kingman Area Transportation Study completed in 1997.

Medians were then installed to eliminate turns from Detroit Avenue to Airway Avenue.

Five of the intersections in the top seven for accidents were on Stockton Hill Road in the area where the median was installed.

Besides the hospital entrance, the intersections are Detroit Street, Beverly Avenue, Airway Avenue and the Interstate 40 interchange.

Of the intersections within the median area, only Beverley Avenue, which is next to the I-40 on and off ramps, remains without a light.

The city and the Arizona Department of Transportation have considered several solutions for Beverly and concluded the only long-term solution is redesigning the interchange.

A roundabout was considered until a traffic expert determined that there is too much traffic on Stockton Hill Road.

"We want drivers to go to the signals to make turns," Butler said.

At the Stockton Hill Road hospital entrance, 70 accidents occurred from 1993-1996, the most in Kingman.

The traffic signal has reduced accidents as traffic counts have increased, Butler said.

A newly installed median south of Gordon Drive where the Safeway Store opened in July limited access to three business establishments on the west side of Stockton Hill Road.

The owners went to the Kingman City Council protesting the loss of business.

"Finding the right balance between access and safety is now easy," City Manager Roger Swenson said.

"We likely would err on the side of safety."

The city council will review the situation at Monday's meeting and give Swenson direction

on changes that would improve access.

Swenson said more business owners in any area where medians are being considered would be brought into the planning process early.

Butler said the center turning lane on Stockton Hill Road from Andy Devine Avenue to Detroit Avenue illustrates the safety issues when turns are not controlled by traffic signals.

When traffic increases and drivers have difficulty turning left, they lose patience, and turns often become accidents.

"Drivers don't realize that driving in the center lane is illegal," Butler said.

"They use the center lane as an entrance to the street or to drive to the next intersection.

That is a ticketable offense."

When drivers traveling in opposite directions use the same center lane, collisions can result.

The section of Stockton Hill Road from Detroit Avenue to Andy Devine Avenue has short blocks with many side streets that are like driveways and limit options for turns.

"There is probably too little room between intersections for a median," Butler said.

The city staff is working on a more standardized plan for medians on Stockton Hill Road that will allow business owners and developers to plan for medians and driveway access.

Swenson wants more business owners involved earlier in the planning process.

When planning and zoning issues and building permits are applied for, all appropriate departments are involved.

The city Traffic Safety Committee looks at safety and access issues for business development and subdivisions.

"The committee is administrative and involves all the city departments," Tom Duranceau, Kingman planning director, said.

"It gets all the people in one room to discuss the issues."

The Traffic Safety Committee includes the city manager, the risk/insurance manager, engineering and building department representatives, the police chief, fire chief, community development director and the public works director.