There are no more shortcuts for emergency vehicles on the Kansas Turnpike between the Lecompton and Topeka interchanges.
New, taller concrete barriers were placed in the median when that stretch of the turnpike was reconstructed from four to six lanes a year ago. The cut-throughs that used to be spaced along the barrier for Kansas Highway Patrol troopers and other emergency vehicles to use were not reinstalled for safety reasons, Kansas Turnpike Authority officials said.
"We strongly discouraged troopers from using them because the traffic was very heavy and it was very dangerous," KTA Chief Executive Mike Johnston said.
Now, troopers go to the next interchange for a complete turnaround between Lecompton and Topeka. But troopers were doing that most of the time anyway, said KHP Capt. John Walters, who oversees turnpike patrols. He said several troopers were working in the area between Topeka and Kansas City, Kan., because of the traffic level.
The new barriers are 51 inches high. The old barriers were 32 inches high. The higher barriers would have made it difficult for troopers to see oncoming traffic in the other lanes while attempting to turn around, Walters said.
There are no plans to replace the smaller barriers along the rest of the turnpike, KTA officials said.