A new South Lawrence Trafficway interchange at Bob Billings Parkway may inconvenience a few area residents both during and after construction, but there are many, many more community residents who will welcome the addition of this access point to the city.
At a public meeting earlier this week, engineers with the Kansas Department of Transportation unveiled more detailed plans for the $17 million interchange. Those plans include many features that will contribute to safety and convenience at the site. The design calls for Bob Billings Parkway to be extended to a six-lane bridge over the trafficway, which also is designated as Kansas Highway 10. That includes four standard lanes and two left-turn lanes. Traffic signals to accommodate left turns onto the trafficway access ramps will be added later as traffic increases.
The bridge will include bicycle lanes and sidewalks with pedestrian-friendly railings on both sides of the bridge. A bike lane that runs alongside the trafficway will be rerouted under the bridge where it won’t intersect with Bob Billings Parkway, which turns into North 1500 Road west of the SLT. Engineers estimate the interchange will be completed by November 2015.
It’s understandable that residents on and near Bob Billings and perhaps some west of the SLT are concerned about the additional traffic the new interchange will produce, but the advantages of the interchange far outweigh the disadvantages. Bob Billings Parkway is a four-lane thoroughfare capable of handling the additional traffic. The route will provide easier access to residential and business developments on the west side of Lawrence as well as to Kansas University’s West Campus and main campus.
This access point was envisioned as part of the original design of the SLT, so residents shouldn’t be surprised it is being built. The fact that it and the eastern leg of the trafficway now are being funded and prepared for construction is cause for celebration in Lawrence. The access the new road and interchanges will provide for Lawrence will be a convenience for Lawrence residents and visitors as well as a boon for business interests. It’s good to see those projects moving forward.