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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.


MacHeath 1 year ago

I have lived in Lawrence for years and have found that loop emptying on to east 6th interesting. I always had the desire to see what was down in there... I never did it when I could. Anyone been in there?


buckjennings 1 year ago

God forbid people living in a town only a few miles across have to spend an additional five minutes in their daily commutes. And, naturally, the civil engineer pipes up to let us know that more automotive infrastructure is the solution. Engineers are like that-- the solution is always more of the same, rather than actually thinking about the bigger picture.


forgetful 1 year 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.


KUGreenMachine 1 year 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...


Alabamastreet 1 year 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.


omnedon 1 year 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?


Karl_Hungus 1 year ago

I vote for a roundabout with some sort of fast food joint in the middle (Roundabout Burger, Taco Roundabout...)


UfoPilot 1 year ago

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


thefisherman 1 year 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.


EarthaKitt 1 year 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.


Brandon Deines 1 year 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.


Biscayne 1 year ago

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


Mark Kostner 1 year 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.


greatgatsby 1 year 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.


g_rock 1 year ago

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


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