Traffic on the Kansas Turnpike just east of Lawrence will squeeze into one lane in each direction beginning next week, as crews start rebuilding the last original section of the pay-as-you-go highway.
The $23.2 million reconstruction project starts Monday, with crews planning to steer traffic into the outside lanes going in each direction. The squeeze will be in effect from just east of the now-closed East Lawrence interchange, which is Exit 204, to just west of the Lawrence service area, which will remain open.
By the end of this month, crews will direct all turnpike traffic onto the existing eastbound lanes, so that the westbound lanes can be torn out and rebuilt. Gone will be the 10 inches of concrete topped by six inches of asphalt, to be replaced by a 10-inch layer of recycled, crushed rock topped off with an 18-inch-thick layer of asphalt.
The speed limit will be reduced from 70 mph to 60 mph through the work zone.
“Please be patient and understanding and courteous to other drivers,” said Rex Fleming, the turnpike’s project engineer. “We’ll work our way through it.”
Crews from Hamm Cos. expect to be finished building the westbound lanes sometime in August. Crews then would switch traffic onto the new lanes, allowing for replacement of the eastbound lanes by Nov. 12.
Two-lane traffic in each direction will be expected to continue through the winter months, with crews set to return to work in the spring to rebuild lanes east of the service area to about a mile west of the new Tonganoxie/Eudora interchange, which is Exit 212.
“The service area will remain open throughout,” Fleming said.
The $23.2 million project will replace the last original section of the turnpike, built in the 1950s.