Six months of waiting finally ends Wednesday morning for drivers who enter and exit the Kansas Turnpike in North Lawrence.
A rebuilt Plaza 204 interchange will reopen in two phases, said Rachel Bell, a turnpike spokeswoman:
• Entering traffic will be able to use the interchange beginning about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
• Exiting traffic will be able to use the interchange beginning about two hours later.
The interchange has been closed since early April for reconstruction, to add lanes, new toll booths and even automated equipment to reduce the need for in-person toll transactions.
“I’ve been out making personal contacts with the businesses, and I’ve received many hugs, high fives and squeals of joy,” said Rex Fleming, the turnpike’s project engineer. “As far as being project manager, this is a fun day. Everybody really appreciates it.”
The project’s general contractor, Perry-based Hamm Cos., is finishing the job nearly a month ahead of schedule.
“We are fortunate to have an experienced partner in Hamm’s who understands the importance of our construction schedule and who shares our dedication in limiting the inconvenience to our customers as much as possible,” said Michael Johnston, the turnpike’s president and CEO.
The work is part of an ongoing overhaul of the turnpike as it passes through Lawrence. The overall $130 million project includes replacement of bridges over the Kansas River. For more information, visit SpanningtheFuture.com.
The work is not part of another traffic-disrupting project: reconstruction of turnpike lanes east of Lawrence, which continues to limit travel to one lane in each direction between Plaza 204 and the Lawrence Service Area.
By contract, Hamm is scheduled to have all four lanes of the turnpike back open for traffic by Nov. 11, Fleming said.
“The weather’s been good,” Fleming said. “I’m confident we’ll make that time.”
Work then will resume in the spring, this time rebuilding turnpike lanes from the service area east, to a point about one mile west of the Tonganoxie/Eudora interchange, known as Plaza 212.