U.S. Highway 59 between Lawrence and Baldwin City on schedule

Eli Gomez, a worker with JT Underground, uses a mini excavator to dig a trench for fiber optic cable south of Lawrence, in preparation for the widening of Highway 59 on Monday, March 12, 2012.

Drivers who take U.S. Highway 59 between Lawrence and Baldwin City will have to wait until November before they’ll be able to pop over to a new, four-lane highway.

“Everything’s up and everything’s on schedule,” said Kim Qualls, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

A 9-mile stretch of the freeway in Franklin County — costing $63.5 million — was completed and ready for use in 2010.

It’s taken a couple more years for the Kansas Department of Transportation to complete a $103.2 million, 11.1-mile stretch in Douglas County, which runs from just south of Lawrence to the Douglas County line.

Some work was completed ahead of schedule, but because of work still remaining, such as grading and paving, the project won’t be completed until November, Qualls said.

The warm — and mostly snow-free — Kansas winter weather wasn’t much help, Qualls said. Because of unpredictable weather, contractors always plan for a winter shutdown from the end of November until March.

When the freeway does open, drivers can expect additional lanes, paved shoulders and lengthy on-ramps.

“I think it’s great news,” said Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell, citing safety concerns about the two-lane portions of U.S. 59. “What we’re doing here is going to make that road safer.”