The Kansas Turnpike Authority has a little holiday gift for travelers heading east from Lawrence: four open lanes of traffic!
The Kansas River bridge that carries eastbound traffic was opened last week. Although work on that and other smaller bridges in the area will continue through the winter, KTA officials say both new bridges now will carry two lanes of traffic.
The same is true in the construction zone just east of the East Lawrence turnpike interchange. KTA officials say they have finished replacing pavement in both directions on the four miles of road just east of the interchange. Similar work on the next three miles to the east has been halted for the winter.
That means that from now until sometime in March, the one-lane bottlenecks east of Lawrence will be eliminated and drivers will have two open lanes in each direction.
The opening only makes sense for KTA which can’t do much work in that area during winter weather, but it’s also a timely gift for drivers. In Kansas, winter often bring hazardous road conditions that are only aggravated by the one-lane construction zones.
It’s easy to be a grinch about road construction, but KTA deserves credit for keeping this project on schedule and making the common sense decision to open the roads for a winter hiatus. The stretch of the road that is being redone east of Lawrence is the last of the turnpike’s original 1950s concrete pavement. Removing the road down to the base and reconstructing it is an extensive project that was bound to cause serious traffic disruption, but if such work is only necessary every 60 years, maybe it’s not so bad.
Enjoy the open lanes while you can. KTA contractors will be back at work sometime in March, depending on the weather. If all goes as planned, KTA will be able to wrap up the project and deliver another holiday traffic gift in November 2011.