For the hundreds of Lawrence residents who commute to Topeka from Lawrence, getting a safer drive on Stull Road will require enduring seven months of inconvenience.
And it all begins Monday.
Construction crews will start the week by closing a 2.3-mile section of the road to through traffic. The stretch runs from Douglas County Road 1029 west to the Fox Run subdivision, less than a mile east of Stull.
Until the $1.4 million project is finished something that officials say could take until April commuters will have to find another way to work and back.
"Douglas County officials recognize that this construction project will be a major inconvenience for the traveling public," said Keith Browning, the county's director of public works. "Unfortunately, due to the nature of the improvements, this cannot be helped."
The project will overhaul the section of Stull Road formally known as Douglas County Road 442 by widening lanes, adding shoulders and improving sight lines by trimming hills and filling dips.
The road carries about 3,600 vehicles each day, up from 2,400 in 1985.
"This project will greatly improve the safety of the roadway," both for through traffic and drivers entering the road from side streets and driveways, Browning said.
King's Construction Co. Inc. of Oskaloosa will receive $1.4 million for the work, or $400,000 less than county officials originally had estimated. The project also includes construction of a bridge and replacement of several culverts.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is covering the bulk of construction costs. Douglas County is kicking in $310,000 for construction and another $360,000 for acquiring land and relocating utilities.
The posted detour for the project will turn drivers leaving Lawrence onto Douglas County Road 1029, to U.S. Highway 40, and then back onto a 2.5-mile stretch of Douglas County Road 1023 which is gravel before connecting once again with Stull Road, which becomes 45th Street in Shawnee County.
Browning said commuters headed to Topeka should consider using the Kansas Turnpike or U.S. 40 until the project is done.
Once completed, the road will have paved shoulders on its 4.5-mile run between U.S. 40 and Stull.