Archive for Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Turnpike to close half of interchange for two weeks

Part of the Kansas Turnpike's East Lawrence interchange will close for about two weeks in preparation for next year's construction.

May 5, 2009


Work on turnpike's bridges, interchanges continues

Maria Watson, a freshman at Central Junior High School, interviews Rex Fleming, Kansas Turnpike project engineer, about the turnpike's ongoing $130 million project to replace the turnpike's Kansas River bridges, overhaul interchanges and handle other work where the turnpike passes through Lawrence. Watson visited The News Center on Monday for career day. Enlarge video

Before the Kansas Turnpike can dismantle one bridge and implode another, it first must close half of the East Lawrence interchange.

And it’s only a preview of a larger — and longer-lasting — project to come.

In the early morning of May 27, the turnpike plans to close its on- and off-ramps for westbound traffic at Exit 204, the interchange across North Third Street from the I-70 Business Center in North Lawrence. Ramps for eastbound traffic will remain open.

The scheduled two-week closure for half of the interchange is designed to give construction crews time to upgrades ramps, move dirt and otherwise prepare for even more work this fall: the transfer of all turnpike traffic — both eastbound and westbound — onto a new Kansas River bridge being built along the northern edge of the interstate.

“Just think of your home,” said Rex Fleming, project engineer for the turnpike. “You’ve got to maintain it. Your driveway? You’ve got to maintain it. Same thing with the highway. Every so often you’ve got to maintain it, and that’s what we’re doing now.”

Once the traffic has been transferred, the turnpike’s new Kansas River bridge will be carrying traffic headed west toward Topeka and east toward the Kansas City metro area. Each direction will have two lanes.

The transfer will allow crews hired by the turnpike to remove the existing river bridges, now 55 years old, and build a second new bridge to take their place. Upon completion, the new bridge will carry eastbound traffic.

The entire $130 million project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.

As part of the overall project, the entire East Lawrence interchange will be rebuilt. Exit 204 will get a new toll plaza, featuring dedicated K-Tag lanes, more payment lanes and, yes, a roundabout to help handle traffic coming in from the east and heading out to the west.

The entire interchange is scheduled to close for eight months beginning next spring.

Lawrence city officials are looking to rebuild an intersection of their own, at North Second and Locust streets in North Lawrence, before the entire interchange closes next spring.

“We appreciate the turnpike’s investment in the infrastructure that serves the state and serves the community,” said David Corliss, Lawrence city manager. “We’ll be glad — just like they’ll be glad — when the work is done.”


Bossa_Nova 9 years ago

that stupid turnpike is a pain in the arse! i wish they would just get rid of it and let us drivers get on with our lives. its so wasteful and it seems like something is always shut down on it such as the exits, the limited gas stations, the crappy junk food restaurants, etc. and that six lane stretch between lawrence and topeka is the epitome of waste and overkill and we're paying for it. what's wrong with highway 70 on the west side of topeka? its just fine and its free and theres easy access to it and its not a waste of money.

average 9 years ago

Blessings on the Turnpike. If I-70 had been freeway for the last fifty years, Lawrence would have been just like Columbia, MO. 9 exits of Cracker Barrels, truck stops, rusting warehouses, and decaying motels from Lecompton to the Leavenworth county line. Has it stymied the cheap-n-easy growth train a little? Sure. Thank the gods.

KansasVoter 9 years ago

Bossa_Nova (Anonymous) says… "and that six lane stretch between lawrence and topeka is the epitome of waste and overkill and we're paying for it."

Basically everything that you wrote is wrong, but this is the dumbest. You obviously have no idea how many people live in Lawrence and work in Topeka.

kmat 9 years ago

I frequently drive I-70 out west and just last month drove I-70 to PA. The stretch through our area is the nicest part of I-70 in most of the country. It's nice because we pay a toll to keep it that way. If you don't like I-70, take 40 to Topeka or 32 to KC.

I-70 in OH and PA is terrible!!! Only take it if you like driving 55 mph and love potholes.

And you want to talk about crappy restaurants and no gas stations around here? Drive it to other states and see what they offer.

Bossa_Nova 9 years ago

bossa's response:

sure the growth is stymied and lawrence is paying for it. the city has no income, full of potholes and businesses are less than attracted to lawrence. this is why lawrence will always be a college town completely dependent on ku for income and those of us who commute to work outside of larryville and we will still have crappy roads in town, property taxes will continue rise and there will always be a shortage of jobs for us.

of course i know how many people live in lawrence and drive to topuka to work everyday. i was one of them. but there are even more people driving to kc everyday on i-70 and k-10. where's the 6 lanes leading out from lawrence to kc? wouldnt it make more sense to have 6 lanes to kc instead of topuka?

and no i'm not the old fart who sits in the left lane pissing everybody off lined up behind me. i'm usually the guy behind the old fogie who wont get outta the way.

has anybody seen how nice i-70 is west of topeka? its nice, clean and it's free and i dont see a bunch of uncontrollable growth. theres less waste and it doesnt look like the road crew waxed and buffed the highway every morning like on the turnpike. PA and OH might be examples of crappy roads, but AZ, NM, NV, CO, UT, Western KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, IL, TX, OK, etc, etc, have some very nice free highways that are very well maintained. why isnt KS able to maintain a highway properly without charging you extra?

kerplunkr 9 years ago

This is totally unrelated, but does anyone know when the road that leads to the Clinton Lake dog park is going to be finished?

Jonathan Becker 9 years ago

Bossa, every time you open your mouth, you amply demonstrate your lack of understanding of history of toll roads and your ignorance of highway funding. When you filled up your car last time, how much of each gallon of gas did you pay for that 'lovely road west of Topeka'? Are you aware that because the toll road was built prior to the passage of the Interstate Highway System under President Eisenhower and was therefore not eligible for highway funding, commonly known as the gas tax? How do your propose to change the law that has been on the books for 50 years so that the toll road gets federal highway dollars?

Mark Twain: It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

coolhandluke 9 years ago

I think Bossa_Nova's posts are flamebait. By the way, if you hold down "Shift" and press a key, it makes it uppercase. This is used for the first letter of a sentence and proper nouns. Also, it's spelled "Topeka".

average 9 years ago

Oh, and Bossa_Nova, regarding the six lanes to Topeka? I've linked to the KDOT traffic counts below. There really is more 20% more traffic on I-70 between Topeka and Lecompton than between Lawrence and KC on either I-70 or K-10 (because the traffic is split between those roads).

Sean Livingstone 9 years ago

"Bossa_Nova (Anonymous) says… bossa's response: has anybody seen how nice i-70 is west of topeka? its nice, clean and it's free"

Bossa... nothing is free.... We pay for it with our tax dollars. I love the turnpike concept, you pay when you use it. I rarely drive from Lawrence to Topeka, if I want to save money, I drive other route.... and there are plenty! If you don't want to pay but want to get to KCK, drive 24. You have a choice. No one forces you to drive on I-70.

Camron Flanders 9 years ago

none2: You are correct, but the state can barely keep the highway's that it pays for intact, let alone upgrade.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years ago

Stop calling it a turnpike. It's a tollway.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years ago


I would contend that there's a reason why they call it a turnpike rather than a tollway. "Turnpike" is marketing spin to make us feel better about paying an unnecessary toll.

The same logic was used when the U.S. Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense.

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