Area briefs

31st Street opened

For the first time since September, 31st Street west of Iowa Street has all of its lanes open for traffic.

By early this afternoon all east- and westbound lanes will be open in front of the new Home Depot and Best Buy stores.

Construction crews had hoped to work through Thursday night laying asphalt and have street work completed by Friday morning, but Thursday night rains kept that from happening.

“They were supposed to start at 8 p.m. (Thursday) but they decided at 7 p.m. not to do it because they knew rain was on the way,” said Chuck Soules, director of the Lawrence Public Works Department.

Instead, the asphalt was placed Friday night. Westbound lanes still were closed Saturday morning, however, as workers cleaned up and removed numerous orange barrels. Some work still is under way west of Iowa Street near 31st and Nieder Road, Soules said.

Wet weather increases West Nile concerns

A wet spring is leading to increased concern about West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne illness particularly dangerous to horses and birds.

Officials say that now is the time to start safeguarding against the virus, though mosquitoes that carry the disease won’t mature until late June and early July.

Symptoms are usually mild and flu-like, and Kim Ens, disease control program director for Douglas County, said most people with strong immune systems didn’t even know they had it.

Ens said now was the best time to vaccinate horses for the disease. There were some area cases of horses with West Nile a year ago.

Simple precautions such as emptying standing water and wearing mosquito repellent containing DEET are the best defense against the virus, Ens said.

Contact the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at 843-0721 for more information.