West 11th Street’s steep hill is undergoing a $4.2 million makeover, with just a little off the top

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

West 11th Street just west of Tennessee Street is pictured on Thursday, April 11, 2024.

One of the steepest hills in Lawrence is about to become a little shorter.

Not so you’d notice — just 4 or 5 feet — but you might appreciate that missing morsel if you’ve ever ridden a bicycle up West 11th Street and felt like your calves would explode.

A $4.2 million project recently got underway on West 11th, one of the main routes between the University of Kansas campus and downtown, resulting in the destruction of the street as we know it and a forthcoming massive rebuild.

When the road in the heart of the Oread Neighborhood reopens months from now, residents can expect not only a brand new street with a gentler slope, but also bike lanes, ADA-compliant sidewalks and better lighting. Below the roadway, water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines will also be replaced or upgraded.

“It’s a steep hill,” project manager Omar Maali said of 11th Street, and it’s going to remain a steep hill, but the improvements are expected to make it a bit more user-friendly and safer. The bike lanes will be buffered, for example, to keep huffing-and-puffing cyclists (or, conversely, downhill racers) at a greater remove from traffic, and one area of 11th that didn’t have any sidewalk before — the south side of 11th between Louisiana and Indiana streets — will now have one.

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

West 11th Street is pictured looking east from its intersection with Louisiana Street on Thursday, April 11, 2024.

The project, which includes the intersecting Louisiana Street south to 12th Street, is scheduled to happen in three phases, which Maali said were designed to be the least disruptive to the KU calendar.

Phase 1, which includes the easternmost portion of 11th Street, approximately Tennessee Street west to Louisiana Street, is scheduled to be substantially complete by May 10. KU’s commencement is scheduled for May 12.

Phase 2 of the project, involving Louisiana Street west to Indiana Street, is slated to begin May 13 and to be open to traffic by mid-August. Classes are scheduled to begin on Aug. 26.

Phase 3, involving Louisiana Street between 11th and 12th streets, is scheduled to begin in fall 2024 and to be substantially complete by February 2025.

Maali said the project is so far on budget and on time.

Updates on the project and a virtual tour of the various planned improvements can be viewed online via links from the city’s website.


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