City engineers are ready to tackle the infamous North Lawrence bump.
They will present a $1.4 million plan to city commissioners Tuesday night to rebuild the entire intersection at North Second and Locust streets, where a large bump in the road is suspected of contributing to an accident in April that injured a 15-year-old boy walking on the sidewalk. He was struck by a trailer that became detached from a sport utility vehicle after hitting the dip.
Shortly after the accident, city crews did a temporary fix by grinding portions of the bump and feathering in asphalt. But now they're ready to do much more.
"We smoothed the bump out, but when you go over it, you still know something is there," said Chuck Soules, the city's director of public works. "We'll make it smooth."
The project was planned well before the accident, and it is designed to address more than just the bump. It will add left turn lanes, allowing motorists to make a more protected turn onto Locust Street. It also will improve a slight curve in the road where motorists begin to go under the railroad overpass.
The bump was caused by a storm sewer that collapsed years ago.
The Kansas Department of Transportation will pay for 80 percent of the project. The city will pay the remaining 20 percent. Work is expected to begin in October 2007, though city officials are still lobbying to have the project moved up on the state's schedule.
Work could take six to nine months depending on weather. At least one lane of traffic in each direction would remain open on North Second Street during the project.
Under plans proposed by engineers, all widening of the intersection would take place to the east, sparing any changes to the commercial area on the west side of the road that includes Johnny's Tavern and other businesses. Current estimates call for the intersection to eat up about 18 feet of the green space near the Lawrence Visitors Center on the east side of the road.
The plan also calls for a small barrier that would stop southbound motorists from making a left turn onto Elm Street. Soules said that was needed because limited sight distances made the left turn a safety issue.
Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Assn., said neighbors agreed with the plans because they thought it would improve safety, though he said the bump is much better than it was.
"At least you don't leave the ground anymore when you go over it, but this will make it better," Boyle said.
In other road news, commissioners on Tuesday night will hear a proposal to spend nearly $800,000 in federal funding earmarked for 31st Street.
Soules is recommending the city spend the money to begin planning and purchasing right-of-way to extend 31st Street from Haskell Avenue to O'Connell Road.
Soules is estimating it will take all the $800,000 just for engineering and some right-of-way purchases. The entire construction project - which wouldn't address any changes to the stretch of 31st Street that runs through the Baker Wetlands - could cost $6 million to build.
But Soules said the project could have major benefits to east-west traffic flow in the city. Mayor Mike Amyx also has been pushing for the extension. He said he would like the city to consider extending the road even farther to the east to connect to County Route 1057, which has an interchange onto Kansas Highway 10 just east of Lawrence.
Congressman Dennis Moore secured the $800,000 earlier this year about the same time that Sen. Pat Roberts secured $1.5 million for the 32nd Street route of the South Lawrence Trafficway.