Construction work on the South Lawrence Trafficway is moving into a new phase, but bulldozers aren't yet ready to begin rolling through the Baker Wetlands.
Instead, construction crews will begin working near the two ends of the project, and they'll be closing a couple of rural roads in the process.
Beginning Monday, a portion of North 1250 Road — also sometimes referred to as 35th Street — will be closed through mid-January while crews construct a culvert in the area. The portion of the road is just southeast of where the South Lawrence Trafficway currently dead ends at Iowa Street. The closure will stretch eastward to the entrance of the Baker Wetlands Visitors Center.
Near the eastern end of the project, crews will close a half mile section of North 1300 Road between East 1700 Road and East 1750 Road. It also is expected to be closed through mid-January to accommodate construction of a culvert.
A major portion of the project that has yet to begin is the large amount of dirt work to be done in the Baker Wetlands. Kimberly Qualls, a spokeswoman for KDOT, said the project's contractor has not yet set a date for that work to begin.
"There is a general phasing plan for the project, but we're just going a few weeks out at a time, based on weather," Qualls said. "So, we don't have a date yet."
But based on the phasing plan, work in the wetlands — which has been a major concern of environmentalists and American Indian groups who consider the wetlands sacred — likely will begin sooner than later. The work in the wetlands is listed in the 2013-2014 portion of the phasing plan.
Other work that is expected to begin as part of the first phase of construction:
• A new Haskell Avenue south of 31st Street that will be built farther to the east in an effort to provide more separation from the Baker Wetlands.
• A new 31st Street west of Haskell Avenue. The road will be built farther south from its current alignment to provide more separation from the wetlands near Haskell.
• Reconstruct portions of Noria Road/East 1750 road, which is near where the SLT will connect with Kansas Highway 10.
• Construct bridges to carry the SLT over O'Connell Road.
Construction on the entire six-mile SLT project is expected to last into 2016.