Kansas Turnpike officials are ready to steer traffic onto a new Kansas River bridge.
Turns out Mother Nature isn’t.
Today’s planned transfer of traffic — for vehicles heading west through Lawrence — has been rescheduled for Friday morning, said Rex Fleming, project engineer.
Fleming had hoped to squeeze westbound traffic into a single lane today, then divert it onto the new river bridge — the first of two to be built as part of a $130 million reconstruction project.
But persistent rain soon washed that schedule away. Crews still need to paint a few more lane markings on the new bridge before the switch can be made, and Fleming figures that won’t happen until early Friday morning.
Even so, plans remain intact to have westbound turnpike traffic using two lanes on the new bridge by Friday evening.
“We’re going to have it open for this weekend,” Fleming said late this morning. “There’s the KU (football) game and other activities, so it’s our preference to have it open for the weekend.”
On Monday, crews plan to continue making changes to allow for shifting eastbound traffic onto the new bridge by Oct. 30.
The new bridge has been configured into four narrow lanes for traffic — two for traffic heading west, and two for vehicles going east — so that crews can dismantle and remove the two existing Kansas River bridges, which have been in place since the turnpike opened more than 50 years ago.
Fleming anticipates the first of the two original spans to be blasted with explosives during the week after Thanksgiving.