Lyon Street looks like the best detour for North Lawrence neighborhood traffic beginning Tuesday.
Lawrence's city engineer has some practical, professional advice for North Lawrence residents hitting the road Tuesday:
"Head north," Terese Gorman said. "All the way to Lyon Street."
Reconfigured traffic routes will become a necessity for many North Lawrence residents next week, as the summerlong reconstruction of Locust Street kicks off Tuesday morning.
The city's contractor on the $400,000 project, LRM Industries, will block Locust between North Second and North Third streets. Rebuilding the one-block section of road will continue into August and possibly until Sept. 1, Gorman said.
The project will do more than replace old pavement, she said. The new Locust will include a lane for traffic turning south onto North Second and north into the renovated Union Pacific Depot. The northeast corner of North Second and Locust also will be trimmed back, making it easier for large trucks -- particularly those traveling to and from FMC -- to turn safely without cutting into unsuspecting traffic.
And that's not all.
"There's a bunch of landscaping: trees, bushes, sidewalks, benches, street lights and decorative-brick paving," Gorman said. "It's gonna look terrific. Aesthetically, it will be a nice entrance into the depot and also Locust Street. It should be a 100 percent improvement."
But in the meantime, motorists will face detours getting back to North Second, the main artery flowing through North Lawrence. With the signals at Locust out of the picture, drivers will be best off detouring to Lyon for access onto North Second, Gorman said.
Getting the road work done now will enable the city to finish its 10-year renovation of the depot, which will be home to public meeting rooms and a Lawrence welcome center operated by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The depot renovation had been planned to include offices for the United Way of Douglas County, but the agency backed out several months ago because of space limitations, said David Corliss, the city's director of legal services.
Land in front of the depot now sits upturned, following the recent demolition of an old freight building on Locust. Now the single block of the road awaits upheaval.
"Yeah, it'll be inconvenient, certainly, in the summer," Gorman said, "but I think everybody will be pleased when it all gets gone. It will be a dramatic improvement."