Archive for Friday, April 17, 1998

ON LAWRENCE

April 17, 1998

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A Kansas Turnpike official says the Lecompton interchange is generating more traffic on the toll road.

Kansas Turnpike officials call it ``the Lecompton Effect.''

Since the Lecompton interchange opened in November 1996, traffic flow through the West Lawrence interchange has dropped dramatically.

``The Lecompton exit has really changed the complexion of Lawrence,'' said Frank Becker, a Lawrence residence and chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

``Basically the West Lawrence interchange has had a really significant drop in volume and it's kind of moved over to Lecompton, which was the intention,'' Becker said. ``The West Lawrence interchange is probably less active for that reason.''

Year-end figures for 1997 show that traffic going through the West Lawrence interchange dropped by 22.5 percent, from 4 million in 1996 to 3.1 million vehicles.

Opening the Lecompton interchange also has generated more traffic on the turnpike, the KTA reported.

The Lecompton interchange handled almost 1.9 million vehicles in 1997.

Becker said about 75 percent of the traffic entering the turnpike at Lecompton is going to Topeka. Meanwhile, turnpike planners are formulating plans for additional improvements on the highway. The possibility of an interchange near Tonganoxie, about milepost 216, is among the ideas being studied, Becker said.

``There are a lot of new homes being built,'' he said. ``They have asked us about an entrance there. It's in the initial stage.''

Other long-term plans call for widening the turnpike to six lanes from Bonner Springs to Topeka between 2000 and 2005 and making repairs on or replacing the turnpike bridge over the Kansas River just north of Lawrence.

This year's major construction project on the turnpike -- which means orange cones and slow lanes -- has already begun.

Construction crews are at work on the fifth year of the 10-year complete roadway replacement project between Kansas City, Kan., and Topeka. This year's project will take place just west of Lawrence, on the eastbound lanes from milepost 194 to 201, said Lisa Callahan, KTA public relations director.

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is dtoplikar@ljworld.com.

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