Exit 202 to open early
Exit 202 on the Kansas Turnpike is poised to reopen to all traffic by Thanksgiving, a month earlier than expected.
The exit - known as the West Lawrence interchange - has been only half operational since April. That's when crews closed ramps on the northern side of the turnpike: for traffic heading into Lawrence from the Kansas City area, and for traffic leaving the city toward Topeka.
Work had been expected to last for six months, but contractors - including Hamm Construction Co. Inc. of Perry - have been on task, said Rex Fleming, the turnpike's project engineer.
"They've been able to get it knocked out in good shape," Fleming said.
Drivers who enter the Kansas Turnpike using the East Lawrence interchange in North Lawrence will just have to wait to have their travel plans rerouted.
Plans to close the interchange at exit 204 for reconstruction - initially anticipated to start by the end of this year - have been pushed back to the late spring or early summer 2010, said Rex Fleming, project engineer. That's to give crews time to focus on finishing a new turnpike bridge nearby, across the Kansas River.
All turnpike traffic then will be diverted onto the new bridge, a consideration for contractors as they work to build new ramps, erect new toll booths and generally create a new plaza along the southern side of the turnpike.
"It's just safer for everybody," Fleming said.
The new interchange is part of a larger, $130 million project that includes replacing the turnpike's Kansas River bridges. The overall project - which includes the soon-to-open upgrades at the West Lawrence interchange, plus construction of several other, smaller bridges - remains on schedule to be finished by the end of 2011, Fleming said.