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Archive for Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tis the season

As if the heat of a Kansas summer wasn’t enough to sour your mood, there’s always summer road construction.

July 16, 2005

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Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has compiled a series of one-liners specifically for people who live or used to live in Kansas. Here's one of them:

"If you know all four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you might live in Kansas."

There's no doubt this is "road construction" season in Lawrence.

Closed intersections and miles of restricted lanes have made Lawrence a particularly frustrating place in which to drive in recent weeks. The good news is that some of the projects finally are edging toward completion. The bad news is that new ones seem to just keep popping up.

It's also unfortunate that even with all of the road work under way this summer, many needs are unmet. During budget discussions last month, the city's director of public works estimated that Lawrence streets needed almost $20 million in delayed maintenance to prevent them from deteriorating to the point they must be rebuilt. An extra $1 million has been recommended in next year's budget to help deal with that problem, but that seems like a drop in the bucket.

Perhaps if the city had dedicated more money to properly maintaining Lawrence streets in the past, there would be fewer major projects under way this summer and fewer streets on the endangered list.

Some of this summer's road work, including in the north end of downtown, actually is utility work: the replacement of aged water lines. In other cases, the projects go beyond maintenance and provide clear improvements in traffic flow and safety. The refurbished intersection of Seventh and Kentucky streets is one of those. A new traffic light there will aid traffic flow and make the intersection safer for pedestrians, and new access to the drive-up mailbox is provided off Kentucky, permanently eliminating dangerous left turns into the mailbox lane off Seventh Street.

The recent hot, dry weather has been ideal to move construction projects quickly forward, but the combination of hot cars and slow, disorganized traffic hasn't done much for the mood of local drivers. As hard as it often is, the answer is to muster up some patience with both the construction and other drivers who may not negotiate work zones to your satisfaction.

It's the season, as Foxworthy says; just keep telling yourself "almost winter" is just around the corner.

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