An interchange at the South Lawrence Trafficway’s intersection with Bob Billings Parkway will provide a welcome new access point for Lawrence motorists.
At their meeting tonight, Lawrence city commissioners will be asked approve an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation to construct the interchange. County commissioners have a similar item on their agenda for Wednesday. The city will contribute about $1 million and the county about $528,000 for the project, which will cost an estimated $17 million. Construction on the interchange may begin in the spring of 2014.
The new interchange will provide a new, easier route for motorists to the developing research business hub on Bob Billings Parkway west of Wakarusa Drive. It also is likely to be a popular option for people traveling further east to the Kansas University campus for athletic events, Lied Center performances and other university activities. Right now, the added convenience will be primarily for people approaching Lawrence from the west, but once the SLT is completed and connected to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, the new interchange also will ease access from the Kansas City business corridor to developments in west Lawrence.
Local residents who live close to Bob Billings Parkway are understandably concerned about the increased traffic that undoubtedly will result from the new interchange. City traffic planners already are looking at ways to accommodate that traffic, including new traffic signals at the parkway’s intersection with George Williams Way.
The additional traffic on Bob Billings/15th Street will require some adjustment, but the street was designed to accommodate that traffic and serve as a major thoroughfare into the city. The interchange will help support economic development in the area west of Wakarusa Drive as well as provide better access to KU.
It’s good to see city, county and state officials moving this project forward.