Lenexa residents press city for solutions to speeding on busy 99th Street

Residents along a busy stretch of 99th Street near Oak Park Mall want the city of Lenexa to address speeding concerns in their neighborhood.

Late last year, some residents along 99th Street, between Monrovia Street and Quivira Road just southwest of the mall, asked the city to consider methods to slow down vehicles that consistently go over the street’s 25-mile-per-hour speed limit.

While the Lenexa Police Department recently conducted a speed study and continues to have officers enforcing the speed limit in that area, residents think it fails to address the problem in a meaningful way.

99th Street is a collector street

That part of 99th Street connects vehicles traveling on arterial roadways, or busier roads with higher speeds, with local roads.

In the past couple of years, residents on 99th said speeding has become more of a problem, with residents saying it’s being used as a shortcut to avoid stoplights to get to other streets and destinations, like the QuikTrip on 95th Street and the mall.

“Sometimes we even have semi-trucks going down 99th Street to get to Quivira or up 99th to get to I-35 interstate,” said Greg Lederer, who has lived on 99th Street since 1974.

It creates problems for people walking, backing out of their driveways and getting to the mail, neighbors say.

“They’re just flying down because they know this is a pathway to the mall or the QuikTrip,” said resident Mark Whatley in an interview with the Johnson County Post.

Neighbors suggested solutions to city leaders

The problem was noticeable enough that Sydney Bergeron, a 99th Street resident since 2019, gathered signatures from neighbors in December, asking the city to consider traffic calming measures.

In documents she gave to city leaders, Bergeron asked for considerations like extending the buffer between the existing sidewalk or narrowing the northern lane of 99th Street and closing the sidewalk gap in their neighborhood.

To get some hard numbers, the Lenexa Police Department conducted a traffic study the week before Christmas.

That study, which lasted from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23, clocked about 21,270 vehicles, with an average speed of 33 mph, nearly 10 miles over the posted speed limit.

Police during their week-long study also logged roughly 7,240 violations that would have warranted a ticket, with the fastest speed registered at 65 mph.

99th Street is working as “intended,” city officials say

The design of 99th Street as both a collector street and residential neighborhood is antiquated, Steve Schooley, Lenexa transportation manager admitted.

“We don’t have residential houses fronting on collector streets anymore,” he said. “This is an unfortunate situation. (This neighborhood) was built many years ago.”

Bergeron’s house, for example, was built in 1971, according to Johnson County property records. Newer neighborhoods in Lenexa are designed to stop people from using their streets as shortcuts, utilizing cul-de-sacs, for instance, and making them less straight than busier arterial roadways, Schooley said.

“That’s not the purpose of those streets,” he said. “They’re just to provide access to those neighborhoods.”

But 99th Street is acting as it should, said Scott McCullough, Lenexa’s community development director. It’s collecting vehicles from other roadways and connecting them to other areas. Adding any of the suggested measures would defeat the street’s purpose.

“These collectors and arterials are intended to carry the larger volumes of vehicles and trucks and school buses and bicyclists,” he said. “To restrict it would be a little bit counterproductive.”

The city sees speed enforcement as a solution

Dawn Layman, Lenexa’s police chief, said that after taking the neighbors’ comments and the data collected during the December study into account, they’ve made more of an effort to do traffic enforcement on the street.

“There’s 81 area complaint areas in the city,” she said. “Some of those other areas, we’ve maybe worked eight to 10 times during this time period versus 27 times here.”

Speeding enforcement is the best option the city has, McCullough added.

“We are doing what we can do, which is enforcing the speed,” he said. “That is our greatest tool here to employ in order to help reduce the impact.”

While Bergeron said she respects the police’s approach, she doesn’t see it as a permanent solution.

“There’s research out there that shows that street design is how you slow cars down. Enforcement does next to nothing,” she said. “I brought all this up (to city leaders), and it was just kind of like, ‘We can’t do anything.'”

City leaders said problems come with the territory

The problems the neighbors are experiencing are similar to if someone bought property near a high-activity commercial area or highway, McCollough said, with impacts like noise and light pollution.

“The street needs to be a collector street and you purchased property on the street that has these impacts,” he said. “We can mitigate it to a certain point, but we cannot remove that impact altogether.”

It’s a disappointing response, Bergeron said. She continues to hope and fight for a better solution.

“I don’t want to like be super critical of (city leaders). They’re very nice and communicative,” she said. “I feel like the city in general is a really good place to live. That’s kind of why I’m fighting for this.”

Another speeding story: Shawnee resident raises concerns about speeding traffic on Monrovia

About the author

Andrew Gaug
Andrew Gaug

👋 Hi! I’m Andrew Gaug, and I cover Shawnee and Lenexa for the Johnson County Post.

I received my bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University and started my career as a business reporter for The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio.

I spent 14 years as a multimedia reporter for the St. Joseph News-Press before joining the Post in 2023.