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City seeking grant money to improve 23rd and Haskell intersection in preparation for increased traffic from SLT

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If there is a special set of scissors out there that have been put aside to cut the ribbon on the completed South Lawrence Trafficway, it may be time to get them out and limber them up. You’ll probably have to knock the rust off of them too. After all, they’ve been sitting unused for more than 20 years.

Obviously, a ribbon cutting for the final leg of the SLT isn’t imminent, but there are more and more signs all the time that people now understand the day is coming. Construction is set to begin this fall, and the road could be open by the Fall of 2016.

The latest signs of preparations for the project are coming out of Lawrence City Hall. Commissioners at their meeting tonight will have three items on their agenda related to the SLT.

The largest is an item to begin the planning of significant upgrades to the 23rd Street and Haskell Avenue intersection.

Commissioners are being asked to submit a grant application to the Kansas Department of Transportation for $1.2 million worth of improvements to the intersection.

The project would include rebuilding the entire intersection with concrete and adding right-turn lanes on 23rd street to accommodate traffic turning both north and south onto Haskell. New traffic signals, storm sewer improvements and sidewalk ramps also would be installed.

The project also would include a widening of Haskell Avenue for the first several feet south of 23rd Street. That widening would make it easier for all of Haskell Avenue to be widened in the future, if traffic demand calls for it. Haskell likely will become a busier road once the trafficway is completed. The SLT plans call for an interchange to be built where Haskell and the SLT intersect. It will be one of the few places for motorists in eastern Lawrence to get onto the trafficway. The only other two interchanges for the SLT will be at Iowa Street and at the ending point for the SLT, which will be near Noria Road on the far eastern edge of the city.

The city is seeking $900,000 in state grant funding for the project. The city at-large would pay the other $300,000 for the improvements. The city should find out this summer whether it has been awarded the grant. Construction likely would occur in the summer or fall of 2015.

The second project is just a simple repaving of 23rd Street from Iowa to Ousdahl. At first glance, that may not seem to have much to do with the South Lawrence Trafficway, but it does. City officials are trying to get as much work done on 23rd Street as possible because currently 23rd Street also is designated as Kansas Highway 10. That designation means it is eligible for state funding for repaving or other similar work.

But once the South Lawrence Trafficway is completed in 2016, 23rd Street no longer will be designated as Kansas Highway 10, and the full cost of maintaining 23rd Street will fall on the city. At their meeting tonight, commissioners will apply for $200,000 in state funds to help repave the section of 23rd Street. If approved, construction work would take place in the summer of 2014.

That would tie in well with a larger project that already has been approved. A major rebuilding of the 23rd and Iowa street intersection is scheduled for 2014.

The third SLT project on tonight’s agenda is a wetland project. That perked up some ears in this town. One part of the SLT project that some people may have forgotten about is that a whole new east-west city street will be constructed at the same time the SLT is being built.

As most people know, 31st Street will move to the south a bit and become a new four-lane city street. But it no longer will stop at Haskell Avenue. Local officials will build the new 31st Street (it actually may be called 32nd Street) eastward all the way to O’Connell Road.

As part of that project, it is estimated about 4 acres of wetlands on the east side of Haskell Avenue will be disturbed by the construction. If you have followed the history of the SLT, perhaps you have heard that if you disturb wetlands you have to create new wetlands to mitigate the effects.

At tonight’s meeting, city commissioners are set to approve an approximately $25,000 contract with Wilson & Co. to begin creating the plan to mitigate the wetland damage. The working plan is that the city will buy 4 acres of excess property in the area from KDOT and turn the land over to Baker University to create new wetlands. But Wilson & Co. will hold a series of public meetings to get feedback on the issue.

Tonight’s City Commission meeting is set for 6:35 p.m. at City Hall.

Comments

Run4More 1 year, 3 months ago

With their anticipation of more traffic on Haskell Avenue, I certainly hope the City will plan on putting a stop light at the intersection of 27th and Haskell. This is already a dangerous intersection with the heavy traffic that is already there, much less adding to it! Lines are backed up on 27th Street everyday during rush hour/school dismissal with people trying to get out onto a busy Haskell Avenue.

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Jake Hess 1 year, 3 months ago

I hope the city will consider dual east-bound turn lanes from Haskell to 23rd St. It is a major hassle trying to catch that 5-second green arrow before it turns red. If not that, then they should at bare minimum program the lights with at least 30-second green arrows for east-bound traffic from Haskell in order to clear the intersection. Getting traffic through that intersection in a timely manner is a joke.

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gatekeeper 1 year, 3 months ago

If the SLT is supposed to be a bypass of the city, why not connect it with K-10 outside of town instead of making all the traffic go all the way to Haskell, then drive down Haskell until you hit the SLT? Spend all this money, screw up the wetlands and still make cars sit in traffic on 23rd and then Haskell. What great planning went into this joke of a bypass. I swear, this town and state are so backwards. I feel sorry for those that live off of Haskell and I'd be trying to sell my house now if I lived over there.

Since 23rd St will no longer be considered K-10, how much will we have to pay for the upkeep of it? This will put Pricilla's or what ever it's called now out of business because shops like that have to be on a highway, according to some archaic law.

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1 year, 3 months ago

I'm not sure of your question, but the bypass will have an interchange outside of town. It will be about where Noria Road intersects with K-10 today. Or in other words, a bit east of the curve on K-10 east of the East Hills Business Park. But planners, I believe, also wanted ways for in-town motorists to access the SLT as well, thus the interchange at Haskell Avenue. Thanks, Chad

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gatekeeper 1 year, 3 months ago

Thank you. That makes more sense. I thought the only interchange was at Haskell.

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beezkneez 1 year, 3 months ago

As a Prairie Park resident you can't get off 27th or 28th on to Haskell during busy times. That doesn't seem right if they are expecting even MORE traffic on Haskell. ???

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gccs14r 1 year, 3 months ago

You live on the wrong side of Iowa, so your needs don't matter.

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beezkneez 1 year, 3 months ago

Ya, we are lucky enough to get the jail, the homeless shelter, the industrail park, the section 8 housing developments, and all that bypass interchange traffic zipping by.

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msezdsit 1 year, 3 months ago

Nobody will ever use 23 street again after the traggicway is completed. I listened to all the bs for 20 years to have at least figured that out. That is why we needed it for all these years.

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frankfussman 1 year, 3 months ago

As I drove down K-10 today coming from the Lecompton exit from I-70, all the way down to Hy 59, it seems to me that sometime in the future they will have to widen that road to 4 lanes. It's a bit dangerous now with two lanes and the chance -- which has already happened -- of cars crossing the center line and colliding.

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buffalo63 1 year, 3 months ago

My questuion also. Will they make it 4 lane now? If not, won't be safe!

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LogicMan 1 year, 3 months ago

Yes, both Haskell and Louisiana, south of 23rd Street, should have been widened many years ago. And 19th Street between Mass and Iowa.

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Thats_messed_up 1 year, 3 months ago

all these improvements will be 15 years late as everything is street wise in Lawrence but hey we have sweet $60,000 roundabaouts instead of $50 stop signs.

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chzypoof1 1 year, 3 months ago

This is all late due to LAWSUITS, not the city. Let's not forget that.

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