Archive for Friday, September 19, 2008

Lawrence exits on Kansas Turnpike to feature roundabouts

Project engineer Rex Fleming describes the activity illustrated in an aerial photograph looks southwest across the construction site for upgrades to the West Lawrence interchange.

September 19, 2008


Upgrading an interchange

Project engineer Rex Fleming describes the activity illustrated in an aerial photograph looks southwest across the construction site for upgrades to the West Lawrence interchange. Enlarge video

This aerial photograph looks southwest across the construction site for upgrades to the West Lawrence interchange, which is exit 202 on the Kansas Turnpike. At the right side of the photo - which is the north end of the site, across a new bridge being built - is the circular foundation for what will be a new roundabout, one designed to handle traffic exiting the turnpike from the east and getting onto the turnpike to go west.

This aerial photograph looks southwest across the construction site for upgrades to the West Lawrence interchange, which is exit 202 on the Kansas Turnpike. At the right side of the photo - which is the north end of the site, across a new bridge being built - is the circular foundation for what will be a new roundabout, one designed to handle traffic exiting the turnpike from the east and getting onto the turnpike to go west.

Lawrence is about to get a new roundabout, and a second is on the way.

And they're big ones.

The first is a one-lane circle measuring 120 feet across that is being built as part of the Kansas Turnpike Authority's $113 million project to overhaul two interchanges in town and replace the turnpike's two Kansas River bridges.

The circular traffic path is taking shape on the north side of the turnpike at the West Lawrence interchange - that's exit 202, at the end of McDonald Drive and north of the Lawrence Holidome and the Hallmark Cards Inc. production plant.

The roundabout will handle traffic leaving Lawrence to head west toward Topeka, and for vehicles coming into Lawrence from the Kansas City area.

The goal: Provide a smooth transition for drivers already slowing down as they exit the turnpike, and for those speeding up to get onto Interstate 70.

The looping ramps already are gone, their tight turns being replaced with gentle ascents and descents designed to minimize the potential for accidents - especially severe ones - and encourage an orderly flow of traffic using a minimal amount of property.

"Roundabouts have been looked at as a way to move traffic without stopping it," said Rachel Bell, a Kansas Turnpike Authority spokeswoman. "They aid in the continuous movement of traffic."

The new traffic pattern will be quite a switch for those who will use it:

¢ 2,600 vehicles per day exiting the turnpike from the east, coming into Lawrence - a total expected to reach 4,300 by the year 2030.

¢ 2,100 vehicles per day leaving Lawrence and heading west toward Topeka. The total is estimated to hit 3,500 by 2030.

Such drivers have been forced since June to find alternate means of travel, either by opting for another turnpike interchange or selecting another route entirely, such as Kansas Highway 10 into Kansas City or U.S. Highway 40 into Topeka.

The roundabout and other improvements at exit 202 are scheduled for completion sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"They'll be excited with the new interchange," said Rex Fleming, project engineer. "They won't have to alter the travel anymore. And when they get into this roundabout, they'll see that it works well."

Then another project will begin, with plans for yet another roundabout.

The turnpike's East Lawrence interchange - exit 204, which runs into and from North Lawrence - will be next in line for upgrades, including a roundabout for ramps on the north side of the turnpike.

Once again, traffic coming into Lawrence from the Kansas City side will need to find a different way into Lawrence, likely by driving two more miles to the new West Lawrence interchange, home of the new roundabout. That's 1,300 vehicles per day at current levels, a total projected to rise to 1,900 by 2030.

Likewise, people headed out of town toward Topeka won't be able to get on the turnpike off North Third Street. That will affect the 1,300 cars that use the ramp now, a total expected to go to 2,100 by 2030.

But don't go planning alternative routes just yet.

"It'll be awhile," Fleming said.

That's because work on the East Lawrence interchange won't start until a new bridge crossing the Kansas River is complete and ready to handle traffic, Fleming said. That project is ongoing.

He expects the two ramps at exit 204 to close sometime in 2010.


ksyellowrocker 9 years, 7 months ago

I could not believe the headline in the paper this morning - a roundabout on the KTA to be completed just in time for the start of the snow and icy months! What fun a mix of people who have trouble driving in roundabouts and people who have problems driving on ice and snow. I hope everyone's auto insurance is in force and up-to-date. One other thing on the subject of the KTA improvement project When they close Eastbound exit #204, into Lawrence, I sure hope someone (Douglas county or KDOT) has had some foresight into putting up traffic lights up at the Junction of Hwy 40 and the K-10 bypass (SLT.) I haven't seen any signs of construction starting up at this location yet. That looooooong southbound exit, to 6th St, ramp currently gets very backed up (especially during the evening hours) after work I have seen vehicles sitting on the shoulder of the highway. It takes FOREVER to turn left onto a very busy (and dangerous) Hwy 40 and I look that spot to get more congested with the closing of KTA exit 204. A driver puts his and his passengers' lives at risk when trying to turn East onto Hwy 40.I live in a neighborhood that is surrounded by these things, along with those 'speed humps,' which are kind of a joke. I don't like the roundabouts and I DO KNOW how to use them! It's all the other drivers who either speed right thru them, like they own the road and have the right-of-way all the time or they come to a complete "4-way stop" stop and sit, waiting for all the other vehicles to clear out of the roundabout so they can proceed. If everyone coming up to a roundabout knows how to maneuver thru them, traffic flows smoothly thru it ('just like a ballet', as my husband puts it) and we have seen this take place here in Lawrence, on occasion.My husband has some great ideas for how the city of Lawrence and the State of Kansas could raise money:--Build a roundabout at the intersection of 19th and Iowa, put up some stadium seating with a concession stand and sell tickets for people to watch the frenzy of demolition derbies.--Make K-10, going East out of Lawrence, a toll road and incorporate a couple more roundabouts and speed humps along it to help 'calm' drivers down.During the past few months, we have been using the Lecompton exit (KTA exit 197) to go to work in Topeka and after reading this article, we will most likely continue to use this route in order to avoid the 'Roundabout Merry-Go-Round!'

MaryKatesPillStash 9 years, 7 months ago

Just an FYI for those of you complaining about the roundabouts being driven on---there is a portion of the roundabout called the apron and it is MEANT to be driven on. It's the inner ring of the roundabout, sometimes made out of brick. Truck drivers who have any recent training know that it is meant to be driven on. If the apron were not in place, some drivers would mistake a one-lane roundabout for a two-lane one.I won't even go into the fact that some of you refuse to accept--that roundabouts cut down on idling and drastically reduce the number of conflict points at an intersection. I'll just focus on the apron for now.

smartmomma 9 years, 7 months ago

i have never heard of a "roundabout" hmmmmm

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

EVERYONE knows how to move through a normal intersection. Very few know how to"use" a roundabout. I have nearly been hit at the one at 19th and Barker, and avoid that intersection completely. I also do not travel north on Kasold, same reason. People are too busy on their cell phones or texting to bother checking out who might be "comin round the mountain". Sitting at an intersection idling???? This is a problem???? Roundabouts are just another European scam that is being shoved down the throats of fawning taxpayers and a totally unnecessary and stupid use of money that should be used to fix the damned streets. I rest my case.

chzypoof1 9 years, 7 months ago

You've got to be kidding. There are no words for the sheer stupidity of these expensive behemoths. Idiots....poof

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

It's not a roundabout... it's a collider!( a brave new development in car-ticle physics )

kusp8 9 years, 7 months ago

Round-abouts, the best idea....well....actually it's not a good idea at all! Sure, maybe they do increase traffic flow if everybody knew how to use them, but not everybody knows how to use them.

Piggles 9 years, 7 months ago

Who's idea is this? Don't they know that roundabouts do NOT work??? People do not know how to drive them! When I'm doing laundry at the laundrymat at 19th and Barker- I sit there and watch the people driving through the roundabout that's there and no one uses the roundabout the way it was meant to be. The traffic east and west go through as if it's a straight away with no stop signs or signals and the people going north and south just sit there until no traffic or a space in the east west flow where they can enter the roundabout. Not only that think of the semis that use the turnpike! Seems like the more advance we become in our world, the more dumber we are.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

Unless you are on the roundabout heading into Jayhawk Blvd. Then you can be sure that the driver on your right will fail to yield to you despite the sign that is posted to do so.

average 9 years, 7 months ago

I'm certain that, according to the naysayers here, the Lawrence city commission "has its fingerprints" on the roundabouts the KTA and KDOT have installed in Topeka, Junction City, Emporia, Hutchinson, and all sorts of other places in the state.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

The problem is not with the roundabouts but with the drivers. Have you taken a road test here lately? Three left turns, two right, and pretend to park on a hill because the road near the DMV is flat. Roundabouts are terrific for traffic, but very hard to manage if you are texting someone you'll see in five minutes anyway.

Bob_Keeshan 9 years, 7 months ago

So roundabouts are bad because people are too ignorant to use them?It is hard to tell - are you advocating a nanny state, are you an elitist, or is it both?

terrapin2 9 years, 7 months ago

Apparently it's cool to hate roundabouts in Larrytown. I mean, apparently there are a bunch of idiots in Larrytown who can't handle driving around a circle with other cars. Like it or not, this is a very sound solution for traffic that is coming off of I-70 at 70+MPH. And for all of you with slightly less than a full six-pack, as others have pointed out already, this is a KTA project, not a City of Lawrence project.

ashmole 9 years, 7 months ago

Please note that the former arrangement of that exit also provided for a "smooth transition" - there were no stop signs or lights and things always seemed to work. This is just another excuse for the Turnpike Authority to spend more money on "improvements," so it can keep issuing bonds, and so it can justify continued tolls on users.Perhaps the privatization of the Turnpike wouldn't be a bad idea. We'd still end up getting gouged on the tolls, but at least the state would get a nice pot of money to spend on other projects.

dweezil222 9 years, 7 months ago

They took our jerbs!Seriously, though, I've seen roundabouts work on some city streets in some places (Lawrence, thus far, has not been one of them). But on an interstate exit? Wait till some drunken jackass comes flying down the ramp, goes straignt over it and head-on into traffic. At that point I recommend a lynch mob directed at all those responsible.

Richie Kennedy 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't know about other issues in the city Fred, but I do know that roundabouts were passed down from KDOT. If that wasn't the case, how come there are roundabouts near Paola, Florence, and Garnett (and coming soon to Fredonia)

Puff_Dragon 9 years, 7 months ago

A full 70 percent of you shouldn't have a d.l. anyway. Roundabouts/traffic circles have been around for a century in countries all over the world and they don't have a problem negotiating them.

TS20twenty 9 years, 7 months ago

I for one, am more confused because there are those who drive through the roundabouts like they always have the right of way. I have come very darn close to being hit many times by them and so, of course, I am confused and cautious in trying to figure out what the other driver is going to do.

somebodynew 9 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Maxxcrab. I am glad to see someone else actually realize that. I was going to post that info earlier but my boss frowns on me signing in at work. (I do still manage to read the posts though.)The people complaining need to realize this is a KTA funded and built project that the city had no input into. Which means to me, the roundabouts WILL be built the correct size, so they will work correctly. That is until the "stupid" drivers approach them and throw everyone off.

jayhawks71 9 years, 7 months ago

I almost fell over when I saw the headline. Not because of any disdain I have for roundabouts, but rather because I knew there would already be a bevy of comments just like the ones above.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^This place is quite predictable. I can't wait for the next "smoking ban" article.

Luxor 9 years, 7 months ago

This is going to be one gigantic, deadly CF.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

You know, I used to avoid 4-way stops like the plague. My introduction to roundabouts was in California and I've been a fan ever since. I still argue that people with problems using roundabouts or people who nearly 'get hit' are like me and 4-way stops. I'll take a roundabout over a 4-way stop any day. Besides, no one knows how to use 4-way stops, either.

KS 9 years, 7 months ago

Oh my gosh! Half of this town is in trouble. Revenue for the KTA will go down becasue the locals will no longer use the KTA. Lawrence folks just can't handle a change like this. Roundabouts are the greatest thing since sliced bread and cold beer. Get used to them folks. If you can't negotiate a roundabout, turn in your freaking drivers license. They save time, money and energy and are a whole lot safer. All the things that liberal Lawrence stands for.

altarego 9 years, 7 months ago

If the roundabout has a large enough radius, you could open a big ol Hooters in the middle of it. This a way everbody could enjoy some chicken wangs and some beer.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

They had roundabouts on the interstate in California. I personally liked them.

saoirseglen 9 years, 7 months ago

If the roundabout has a large enough diameter it will greatly improve the traffic flow because the differential between entering and exiting traffic speeds will be less than with existing ramp designs. I have seen it done in Spain and they do work. However, and this is the key to a functional roundabout, it has to be large enough in diameter to handle the traffic flow and allow for easy entry and exit of traffic. The roundabouts in Lawrence are restricted to one lane of traffic around them, they are small diameter thus causing problems for larger and longer vehicles and are purposely done to make intersections slow rather than more efficient.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

So... will it be adorned with an evolving crop circle?

blakus 9 years, 7 months ago

If you don't know how to use a roundabout then you shouldn't have a liscense. I think there is a secret 'I hate roundabouts' movement going on here. If people could only put this much passion into things that matter, and not some traffic easing device that most will seldomly use. Bagh!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

Well, I guess we know at least a few people who aren't competent enough drivers to deserve licenses.

Alison Roberts 9 years, 7 months ago

Im from a town that has 2 of these lovely roundabouts off highway exits and they are about the most annoying things EVER. Im hoping they will be different because its a toll road, but in Newton you have to get off at exit #1, even if exit #2 is closer to your destination. Once youre off, youre have to go to the next one to get back on the highway. Why is Lawrence obsessed with roundabouts? Like the 2 that are off inverness by Southwest J.H ??!! does there really need to be 2 in a row? NO.Grr!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

smartmomma: "i have never heard of a "roundabout" Bob: "So roundabouts are bad because people are too ignorant to use them? It is hard to tell - are you advocating a nanny state, are you an elitist, or is it both?"Ready to dismiss the nanny?

somebodynew 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't often think this after reading your posts Mr_N, but I think you have actually hit the nail on the head. Plus, keep in mind their brain is probably also distracted by talking, dialing, or texting at the same time.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 7 months ago

Roundies havent presented a huge problem for me.People seem to be able to figure them out with only an occassional jackarse who slows or stops to let people enter the darned things.When are the police going to start ticketing people who stop at the beginning of the merging curve at 23 and Iowa heading West than North?There is a good two blocks of merging lane and yet some drivers(usually female)cannot negotiate that merge without stopping.I understand that it is difficult, especially for the inexperienced driver.But if you have to stop do it at the END of the merging lane not at the beginning of it.That practice is dangerous,irritating and I wish it were enforced as an intentional blocking of traffic or reckless driving or something because that is exactly what it is.Or pure incompetence worthy of a license review.Whatever the case if they get arse ended and whiplashed,don't say they didn't have it coming to them.

headdoctor 9 years, 7 months ago

12,600 to 4,300 and 12,100 to 3,500 ???? I don't think that is what they intended to say. I thought they were preparing for more traffic or is the roundabouts going to cut down use?

Raider 9 years, 7 months ago

How Fk()*& fitting is that? The "City of Roundabouts" is getting roundabouts on the insterstate exits. I love it! What a jacked up mess! I guess the commision couldn't get one at 19th and Louisiana, so they opted for the Turnpike. Wonder whose palm got greased to approve that one?

Jonathan Kealing 9 years, 7 months ago

headdoctor-Those aren't "1"s, they're a sort of bullet point. I'm going to change to a horizontal dash so no one else can confuse it.Jonathan KealingOnline editor

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

Why are people so flipped out about roundabouts? I personally like them better than 4-way stops. By the way, I see semi's, people with trailers, big trucks, etc. hitting curbs of normal intersection ALL THE TIME. So I'm going to say that if you don't like roundabouts, you 1) are horrible at using them, 2) think they cost too much, or 3) have ideological disagreements with the people promoting them--or any combination of the three.

topekan7 9 years, 7 months ago

For those of you who don't understand roundabouts: have several in Topeka, with more on the way. I'd rather traverse a roundabout than be stuck at a red light.

Hawk6643 9 years, 7 months ago

What about semis? Have you ever seen one of those things trying to go through a round about?

dweezil222 9 years, 7 months ago

Ouch. Good point about the timing. Winter will be a disaster.

maxcrabb 9 years, 7 months ago

Not saying this to argue one way or the other on the merits of roundabouts, but...This is all done by the Kansas Turnpike Authority, and not by any Lawrence governmental department or commision...So, you know... lay off it for a day?

domino 9 years, 7 months ago

chzy - you almost mirrored my thoughts - minus an expleitive!!!

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

And again, after going back and reading some posts: many people do NOT know how to use a simple 4-way stop. Or I don't know, maybe they do. But even if people know how to use a 4-way stop, no one does so correctly.I think people are just way too accustomed to grids, so circles make their brains short out. If a looney liberal like myself can figure out roundabouts, then I would guess that the average superior conservative can, too. I know I'm going to draw fire on this statement, but quit being a bunch of whiners. I suppose you would all freak out about legal U-turns in protected turn lanes on divided highways.

fanofKU 9 years, 7 months ago

When is the city going to realize roundabouts are a waste of money? All over town you see people running over them, tearing up the curbs, walls, shrubs and plants. I've seen many dump trucks, semi-trucks, City of Lawrence trash trucks, and people pulling boats and campers just running over them. And no better than the city is at repairing things how long will it be before these get fixed? What a hassle! And they aren't pretty either!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

I am certain and for sure that the Lawrence City Commission has it's fingerprints all over this issue. I do not believe one second that this decision was secretly set up by Lawrence commissioners who are so spaced out on these vicious devices and totally unresponsive to common sense and public need and want. I have personally experienced the lack of responsiveness of this gutless and spineless group of yes-bodies to the city manager and I think that this deal was an under-the-table arrangement to let Corless (core-less) get his dysfunctional ideas set into stone by an unsuspecting state agency. This is a horrible decision and evidence of the lack of public interest by a number of agencies.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

There are bigger problems on the planet than round-a-bouts which do work. Over the week-end we came across a large round-a-bout in the middle of nowhere on Highway 50 west of here. 18 wheelers had no problem and yes it slowed traffic at an apparently dangerous intersection, yet kept traffic moving. A bigger problem would be how USD 497 blew 2.3 million tax dollars on high dollar sports facilities that remain not used the greater majority of the time. How many times will taxpayers pay for this unwise use of USD 497 tax dollars?Prairie Park Elementary,Deerfield Elemetary and Central Junior High Schools could have used this moneyUSD 497 cannot afford it's current programs which is why parents must pay to play. So why add further costs onto the program? My guess is the city and USD 497 will come back to the taxpayers in order to staff and maintain the new tax dollar burner.Then all cheer lead the development of new warehouse areas without thinking how much will these project cost MEto make the local developers even more money. YES we have all been trained to believe that blowing tons of tax dollars on new infrastructure for new housing and low paying warehouse jobs cost YOU and ME nothing. Remember where new infrastructure goes so goes all of these BIG TIME tax increasing projects: the $88 million sewage treatment plant,which in and of itself increases the cost of community services water and sewer lines streets and repairshouses (((If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality. Why not IMPACT FEES or EXCISE TAXES? Local real estate developers ARE STILL laughing all of the way to the bank on the backs of taxpayers. )))public schools fire stations law enforcement manpowersidewalks snow removal bike trails and cross walks Traffic signals Traffic calming developers requesting more tax dollar assistance(new infrastructure) for theirwarehouses and retail strip malls.In general increases the cost of community services to all taxpayers.Apparently local complainers truly do love the largest of tax increases that accomplish the least the for overall community and benefit the very few.....aka duped.

KS 9 years, 7 months ago

bartstop - An excellent idea. A roundabout at 23rd and Iowa. Think of the fuel that would be saved (no stopping and waiting for a green light) and energy saved by not operating the traffic lights. The more the merrier. I love roundabouts. Twosides - Be careful what you wish for.

ScottyMac 9 years, 7 months ago

Let me get this straight:Roundabouts improve traffic flow. They drastically reduce accidents, especially severe ones.They take up less space than many other kinds of intersections, particularly the cloverleaf.They are easy to navigate, even by large axle vehicles like fire trucks and semis.Their cost, both to build and to maintain, compares favorably to other kinds of improved intersections.They help motorists save money on fuel and wear and tear on their cars.They reduce emissions.And people stubbornly oppose them because..why again?It is interesting to note that, judging by the comments here, roundabouts are confusing to some drivers. Some drivers, I guess, are too ignorant to handle such advanced concepts as "yield," "merge" and "counterclockwise." Nevertheless, THEY STILL SAVE LIVES.The people that buck and bellyache like rabid mules because they are too stupid or too stubborn to appreciate the elegance of the roundabout miss this very important point. Even if what these folks are saying were true --that "nobody" knows how to drive through them, that they're too small, that they obstruct the driver's view-- the numbers simply do not lie: Roundabouts are simply incredibly safer and more efficient than most any other option. Accidents of any kind are fewer, and those accidents that do inevitably occur are likely to be low-speed scrapes and sideswipes rather than high-speed dead-on collisions. The engineers that designed them have accomplished something quite impressive.

David Albertson 9 years, 7 months ago

Could you imagine 23rd and Iowa with a roundabout? What a joke.

Ron Holzwarth 9 years, 7 months ago

Roundabouts are great. If your car is smashed on your left, it is YOUR FAULT. If your car is smashed on your right, you COLLECT off the other driver's insurance (if he has any). Saves a LOT of police time.

Alison Roberts 9 years, 7 months ago

if you cant spell license, you shouldnt have one, Blakus. : )Roundabouts are no fun for people in cars that have no power steering... but thats my personal problem.. ha. I still dont like them.

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