LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

City set to make additional improvements to Sixth and Iowa intersection


If you are a Lawrence driver, you’ve had this happen to you before: You’re driving westbound on Sixth Street, minding your own business. You see Taco Johns, and then begin calculating how many cheap tacos you are going to eat on Taco Tuesday. You see the Zarco 66 station and its car wash, and try to calculate if this is the year the F150 is due for a wash. You see the Dollar General store, and begin calculating how many $1 bags of knock-off Doritos you could buy with a month’s worth of paychecks.

And then . . . Holy Mother of Red Lights. You are in the LEFT LANE at Sixth and Iowa Street. You’re trying to go straight, idiot. Why are you in the left lane?

At this point, you might as well just settle in because Sixth Street at Sixth and Iowa has no dedicated left turn lane, which means traffic in the left-lane will stack up while the poor guy at the front of the line is waiting for a break in vehicles to turn onto Iowa Street.

We’ve previously reported that problem is set to get fixed this summer. Crews will add a left turn lane at the intersection. But now I’ve learned there is even more on tap for the intersection.

City Hall engineers tell me that as they’ve worked on the design of the project, it appears it will come in under the $900,000 estimate they had for the intersection. Engineers are looking to keep the project budget the same but add a few more improvements to the intersection.

Originally, the project was slated to just include adding a left turn lane on westbound Sixth Street. Plans called for the roadway to be widened to the north a bit, and traffic lanes would be reduced from 12 feet wide to 11 feet wide. That would allow Sixth Street to have a left turn lane and two lanes of through traffic at the intersection. The latest plans still call for those improvements, but also these additional ones:

• Iowa Street now will have two left turn lanes, funneling traffic westward onto Sixth Street. To accomplish that, however, the city will change the intersection so that there is only one lane of traffic for southbound Iowa Street. (Just at the intersection. It will widen back out to two lanes as you progress southward.)

• A dedicated right turn lane for eastbound motorists on Sixth Street turning south onto Iowa Street. City engineers have calculated the average delay at the intersection during peak driving hours will be reduced from 93 seconds to 23 seconds.

The city is expected to go out to bid for the project in April. Construction would take place over the summer.


g_rock 5 years, 2 months ago

I think I need to give up driving this summer. You all are gonna make it stupid before it gets better.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 2 months ago

If the process of being able to turn into a single lane of traffic "makes it stupid", then by all means, give up driving.

greatgatsby 5 years, 2 months ago

From a Civil Engineers perspective this makes a good deal of sense. It might make the intersection a little hectic during construction but that'll be real good long term.

Mark Kostner 5 years, 2 months ago

That is an interesting intersection dating back to when it was a highway junction at the edge of town in the 1950's. It's half interchange and half intersection. I'm surprised the thing isn't completely rebuilt either as a diamond interchange or a surface intersection and not a cross of the two. The junction has had a long life.

Biscayne 5 years, 2 months ago

Iowa St headed north at 19th needs a right hand turn lane going east.

workinghard 5 years, 2 months ago

I could not understand why they did not do that when they built the new fire station there. It was the perfect opportunity.

Brandon Deines 5 years, 2 months ago

Whatever you do, don't change a thing about the loop that you take to get from McDonald Dr. to east-bound 6th Street. That thing is a marvel of traffic engineering, and is not dangerous in the least.

EarthaKitt 5 years, 2 months ago

I've always loved taking the ramp from southbound Iowa onto eastbound Sixth. It feels like you're headed to the first drop on the Zambezi Zinger.

asixbury 5 years, 2 months ago

Loved that ride, thought it terrified me when I was young. Always felt like you were going to slide right off the track.

asixbury 5 years, 2 months ago

No, Worlds of Fun. The ride is no longer there, but at one point, it was one of the oldest roller coasters in the area.

thefisherman 5 years, 2 months ago

I love the sound of this. I use that intersection at least twice a day getting the kiddo to daycare then back to work. Fortunately my wife is a teacher and will be staying home with our daughter over the summer so the impact to my commute will be minimal.

Double left turn lane onto 6th and dedicated left turn lane onto southbound Iowa are long overdue.

UfoPilot 5 years, 2 months ago

A million dollar band-aid. Just tear it out and fix it right.

Chris Phillips 5 years, 2 months ago

Why don't just rebuild Lawrence next to it's current location and have everything just the way we want it, then we can relocate to the perfect design? That way we won't have to put up with any modification to existing infrastructure to accomodate our changing needs?

Alabamastreet 5 years, 2 months ago

Chad, love your columns. One nit on today's:

"You see the Zarco 66 station and its car wash, and try to calculate if this is the year the F150 is due for a wash."

You can get a coffee, even a breakfast burrito, at the Zarco drive thru, formerly-known-as-a-carwash, but your F150 is not going to be any cleaner after you have breakfast there.

KUGreenMachine 5 years, 2 months ago

Wonder why they didn't just opt to build a round a bout at that intersection?? That seems to be the usual answer for just about any traffic problem these days. Also, I wonder if they'll ever change the lights on 6th street to sensors instead of timers. I know for a fact you can wait for up to 5 minutes waiting for a light to change if you're on Kasold or Monterey Way trying to cross while there is little to no traffic on 6th...

Mark Elzea 5 years, 2 months ago

I've always wondered what the functional life of the tunnels underneath 6th & Iowa is - does anyone know? I was born here in 1958, and I can't remember them not being there (my dad always honked when he went through the tunnels, much to the delight of his kids).

What is the plan down the road when they have to be replaced? Talk about bringing traffic to a halt!

Just curious if anyone has ever heard an answer to the tunnels' expected lifespan question.

Starbrite 5 years, 2 months ago

I've wondered the same thing. Will those tunnels be updated too?

asixbury 5 years, 2 months ago

Few minutes across? You OBVIOUSLY have not tried to take 23rd all the way from the west side of town (Clinton Parkway) to K-10 on the other end. It takes on average about 20-30 minutes due to the heavy traffic.

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