Archive for Thursday, January 7, 2010

North Lawrence intersection will be closed for months longer

Motorists drive south along N. 2nd Street Thursday. Work is delayed due to old concrete blocking further construction on the roadway.

Motorists drive south along N. 2nd Street Thursday. Work is delayed due to old concrete blocking further construction on the roadway.

January 7, 2010

Advertisement

North Lawrence intersection will be closed for months longer

Unexpected underground discoveries are pushing back completion dates and adding to the cost of rebuilding the intersection of North Second and Locust streets in North Lawrence. Enlarge video

Unexpected, underground discoveries are pushing back completion dates and adding to the cost of rebuilding the intersection of North Second and Locust streets in North Lawrence.

Mother Nature’s extended cold snap isn’t helping, either. A detour that was expected to be lifted more than six weeks ago now is scheduled to redirect traffic for 11 more.

“We’re discouraged by it, the same as the public,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “Unfortunately, as with any project, there is the possibility of encountering unexpected site conditions, and we’ve had some out there. They’re just totally unavoidable circumstances.”

And immovable. Late last year, crews from project contractor R.D. Johnson unearthed a massive concrete drainage structure, likely built in the 1930s as part of the Union Pacific overpass, that engineers determined should not be relocated or removed.

That meant redesigning the work to rebuild the road itself, from Locust north to the overpass. The change will add about $150,000 to the overall $2.5 million project cost, with the money to come from the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Such stimulus money, of course, won’t buy back lost time. Two-way traffic will be expected to return March 26 to North Second Street, officials say, while all lanes should reopen by June 30, and the entire project should be finished by Aug. 26.

“We absolutely want to make sure the project’s done right,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works. “We want to make sure that when we get this project done, it’s there for another 70 (or) 80 years.”

Ted Boyle, president of the North Lawrence Improvement Association, said neighborhood residents were looking forward to the project’s new turn lanes and improved drainage systems, in addition to a new waterline already installed underground.

But the detour that’s been in place since July 30 remains frustrating, especially because it originally was to be removed by Thanksgiving.

“You can either grin about it or you can cry about it,” said Boyle, who’s lived north of the Kansas River for more than 50 years. “It’s a lot more fun to grin about it and laugh about it.”

Comments

chairs 5 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget about the businesses being effected by the construction! The GasLight Tavern just reopened this summer and it would be a shame for it to close down again. :( Also- the Village Witch is adorable and Johnny's is a institution!

jenniflip 5 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. Please help support North Lawrence businesses during the construction. The construction is out of their control and they are an important part of our community.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 3 months ago

Never heard of a private contractor ever being half way done with a project, only to find out it will take longer AND cost more, then the quote.

thelonious 5 years, 3 months ago

The city can't maintain what they have above ground. Asking them to know what they have below ground is clearly asking too much.

feetup 5 years, 3 months ago

what on earth did they think was down there??? dead bodies???

lgreen17 5 years, 3 months ago

It's time for Chuck Soules to be fired. I'm sure he's a nice man with a good family, but honestly, who starts a major project like this going into winter.

We are fed up with the construction!!!

acg 5 years, 3 months ago

I know driving that dogleg over the tracks every day is beating my poor car's suspension to crap. That makes me wonder if they plan on repaving that road when this is done? That neighborhood wasn't mean to be a major traffic area for 6 months and with the brutal cold and major snowfalls, the road is going to be completely trashed when this is all overwith.

webmocker 5 years, 3 months ago

lgreen17 writes:

"It's time for Chuck Soules to be fired. I'm sure he's a nice man with a good family, but honestly, who starts a major project like this going into winter.

We are fed up with the construction!!!"

First, the project was started in the summer and scheduled to be completed before winter.

Second, if the project were planned for the spring, it would likely overlap with the East Lawrence interchange closure, creating additional problems for people trying to reach North Lawrence and Jefferson/Leavenworth counties, and likely resulting in even longer lines of traffic for people to whine about.

Mike Wagner 5 years, 3 months ago

Unexpected, underground discoveries are pushing back completion dates and adding to the cost of rebuilding the intersection, “Unfortunately, as with any project, there is the possibility of encountering unexpected site conditions". Really, is that with any project or just with any project that the city of Lawrence has anything to do with? How does the city not know about a complete drainage system? If they didn’t know what was under their how did anyone bid on this job? I hope all of the people in charge of that project are as embarrassed as they should be (but I’m sure they will still get their yearly raise and bonus...)! That reminds me, does anyone know when the city will be hiring again??? On a separate note: It sucks that you can’t just make a quick post anymore without feeling like you're writing a paper to be graded by all the grammar police!

nomorebush 5 years, 3 months ago

Anybody remember the sinkhole in front of johnny's and all the cement they dumped in it.

Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 3 months ago

Great. My commute from Tongie is getting longer and longer. With 7th street closed it really is annoying. We had been taking dirt roads until the snow moved in. Gotta love road construction.

Jack Hope III 5 years, 3 months ago

Whine whine whine whine whine whine whine. Whine whine whine whine whine. Whine whine whine whine. Whine? Whine!

Good lord, you people suck.

It's a big construction project under and around a functioning railroad bridge, and includes continuous vehicle traffic during the worst snow storm in decades. Should they start cutting corners so you people aren't inconvenienced? Do you even understand all the benefits this will have for North Lawrence?

Remember: 1) turning lanes 2) huge drainage pipes 3) no big bump at Locust St.

I live in North Lawrence and I don't care how long it takes as long as they DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. To be honest, I'm thrilled they are doing it at all. Hurray for the city, and I hope those construction guys are keeping warm and getting well paid.

KawHawk 5 years, 3 months ago

"Does the city not keep plans [including what is built underground] of major road, drainage construction? Even if it is decades to a centuries years old?"

Not necessarily. Even IF they kept the plans from 50 or 100 years ago, and even IF the records were kept organized and safe - which often wasn't the case decades ago - document-keeping and mapping and surveying practices have all improved over time. Lawrence is probably well AHEAD of many cities/towns in the state in keeping its records - there are towns and counties where the only record or map is on paper, in some cleark's office, where only she/he knows where it is (becasue she/he's bee there for 50 years) - or worse, the records are all in someone's head, not even hardcopy.

inquire 5 years, 3 months ago

"This is an enormous problem because of the construction!" Boo Hoo! Why don't you have a cry about it and HTFU.

Uhjh 5 years, 3 months ago

This is structure was built in the 30’s by a third party probably the UP railroad. It is hard to get accurate records for that period regardless. So a few months delay and increase of 150K which is not a great percentage of the overall project, big deal. I am just glad to have the improvements and am willing to wait a little longer for a legitimate delay.

countrygirl 5 years, 3 months ago

Since we're going to have to deal with the constuction for a while longer, could we get better snow removal through this stretch? It was really slick going through there on Wednesday night!

Jack Hope III 5 years, 3 months ago

Machiavelli_mania, let me educate you because you obviously aren't doing it very well on your own.

The city got money from the stimulus package... to paraphrase the movie Ghostbusters, when the US government asks you if you want a lot of money to start a construction project right away, you say YES!

This project started in the summer... as in the summer in the northern hemisphere... perhaps you were in Australia when it started. It was supposed to end in November, but got pushed back.

7th street is closed because they are rebuilding the bridges for the turnpike. The city has no say in that project. Once again, if the federal government asks you if you want a lot of money for a road project...

If they lower the taxes in North Lawrence, then the city has less motivation to do anything over here. So, to paraphrase the Boston Tea Party-ers (the original ones, not the new, crazy ones) -- no representation without taxation.

Regarding drainage, there are two big pumps under the railroad bridge, but just a teenie, tiny, little pipe running from them to the river. Try emptying your bathtub through a straw and you may get the picture of what the problem is.

Regarding opening two lanes at north elm... it sounds like a good idea, but it would probably be a mess. No one would pay attention to the "local traffic only" rules. To be honest, I wish they would just close the 3rd street railroad crossing and force everyone to 7th street so when the traffic did back up because of the train, it wouldn't all be stuck on a bridge over a river. I always have images of Minneapolis/London bridges falling down when I'm stuck on it.

Jack Hope III 5 years, 3 months ago

Machiavelli,

Regarding the pumps, they were probably originally installed in the 1930s, before most of the houses in North Lawrence were built. Back then, they didn't have a firm grasp on hydrodynamics, and could not predict that building a bunch of houses would limit the area needed to absorb rainwater.

Following the 1993 flood, the city had to rebuild one pump and replace the other because of the damage they sustained. However, the pipes were still small and could not be replaced without tearing up the intersection.

In the meantime, the traffic should be diverted down Locust, across 7th street and back down Lyons. That's my suggestion.

I'm not defending the city commissioners -- they've done some silly stuff recently in my opinion -- but to call them out because of this project is silly. As I said before, if the government gives you money to start a project, you start it right away. You don't risk losing the funds. The Obama administration wanted "shovel ready" projects, and this one was exactly that. And if they hadn't started it, it might have been years before we got another crack at it.

Complain all you want Machiavelli_mania, but if you have nothing to contribute, what's the point?

shadowbox66044 5 years, 3 months ago

The GasLight? Underage drinking in the front, pot smoking in the back. That is one of the worst bars I have ever been too. I hope the construction hurts them so bad they shut down and never open again. Not to mention the place is a dump.

LadyJ 5 years, 3 months ago

By reading his post I think Machiavelli lives in North Lawrence but I can"t decide if he is a long time resident of North Lawrence or not because he doesn't sound like the typical one. The rest of us are kind of use to it and take it in stride. Ted Boyle is a good example, take it in stride but push back when it is needed. Hopefully this will maybe get us a better score with the FEMA and lower our premiums. I think we are at 8 (maybe only 9) with 10 being the lowest. If someone knows what we are rated at, please post. I wouldn't mind getting kicked up to 7. You know I'm going to have to look all that up again because it requires action on the part of the city to raise your score. But I agree that train is pain, I hit it 4 out of 5 times.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.