Reconstruction of a major intersection in North Lawrence could begin by the end of next week.
Crews from R.D. Johnson Excavating Co. Inc. continue to move forward with their plans for a $2.63 million overhaul of North Second and Locust streets, a project expected to force lane closures into early December.
By contract, construction had been expected to start as early as this past Monday, but questions about traffic-control plans and emergency-response capabilities already had prompted a delay of a week.
Now comes word that the Lawrence-based contractor is waiting for specialized traffic-signal equipment to arrive, so that it may be installed before construction will limit traffic on North Second to a single lane during construction.
The equipment will provide sensors that can read the approach of emergency vehicles, so that intersections can be cleared of traffic that might otherwise impede timely emergency responses.
“The traffic control plan’s done,” said Roger Johnson, CEO of R.D. Johnson. “Now all we’re waiting for is parts.”
Shoeb Uddin, city engineer, said that signs would be put up beginning Monday, to alert drivers of the upcoming lane closures. Minor clearing work could begin soon thereafter, but lane closures won’t be expected to occur until late in the week.
Uddin said that lane closures would begin by the end of the day Thursday, in time to permit construction to start in the intersection Friday. Johnson said he would have construction underway by Monday at the latest.
The delay in starting is pushing back the contractual completion date for the first phase of the project, which will include adding left-turn lanes on North Second at Locust.
The initial work includes plans for the project’s most constricting traffic patterns: Vehicles heading south on North Second will be limited to a single lane at Locust; traffic heading north will be steered onto a detour that includes Elm, North Third and — after crossing the Union Pacific railroad tracks — Lyon streets.
The closures and detour will be expected to last until the first phase of construction is done, a deadline originally set for late November but now moving into early December.
Johnson isn’t about to worry about the chances for inclement weather — or at least not yet.
“I’m not concerned,” Johnson said.
Earlier this week, Lawrence city commissioners agreed to spend about $30,000 during the project to place a dedicated Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical crew in North Lawrence during peak travel times in the mornings and evenings, Mondays through Saturdays. The decision came after residents in North Lawrence had expressed fears of emergency crews being unable to cross the Kansas River into North Lawrence because of the construction project.
Waiting to start construction has been worthwhile, Johnson said, to be sure that everyone’s safety concerns have been addressed.
The entire reconstruction project also includes adding drainage pipes and inlets at the intersection, installing a new water line, and eliminating a large “bump” in the intersection that has been in place since an underground drainage pipe was repaired there after flooding in 1993.
The reconstruction project is scheduled to be finished in April.