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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.

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