KDOT presents 3 possible reconfigurations of north interchange of South Lawrence Trafficway

photo by: KDOT

Greg Weatherd, a consultant for the Kansas Department of Transportation, showed this map to the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 26. It shows the department's third alternative for reconfiguring the "north end" of the South Lawrence Trafficway, which includes creating ramp access between K-10 Highway, I-70 and North 1800 Road, also known as Farmer's Turnpike.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is considering three plans to renovate the north end of the South Lawrence Trafficway — the general area where Kansas Highway 10 meets Interstate 70 and the Farmer’s Turnpike — as part of its work toward expanding the trafficway’s western leg from two lanes to four.

Greg Weatherd of HNTB, a consultant for KDOT, presented the three plans to the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday as part of an update on the department’s three-year environmental impact study for the project, which began in September 2018.

Weatherd said part of the reason the department began the study was because of concerns community members had about how the north-end area was designed in a previous concept study. The north end of the SLT includes the interchange from K-10 to I-70, or the Kansas Turnpike, and the intersection of K-10 and North 1800 Road, which is also known as the Farmer’s Turnpike.

The first option Weatherd shared would reconfigure the north end into a K-10 and I-70 interchange, taking away K-10’s access to the Farmer’s Turnpike. It would then create a new access point to the Farmer’s Turnpike at Lecompton Road, about 2.5 miles west of the current access point. Weatherd said it could also include improvements, such as shoulder widening, on Highway 40 from the new Lecompton Road access point to Sixth Street in Lawrence.

photo by: KDOT

Like the first option, the second option would create an access point for the Farmer’s Turnpike at Lecompton Road. However, it would also keep the intersection of K-10 and the Farmer’s Turnpike open. Weatherd said that would address concerns from drivers who want access to the Farmer’s Turnpike without taking I-70 or Highway 40.

photo by: KDOT

The third option would more dramatically reconfigure the north-end interchange. In this option, K-10’s access to the Farmer’s Turnpike would be through newly constructed ramps, not an at-grade intersection. Ramps would also connect K-10 to I-70, and the Farmer’s Turnpike would get ramp access to I-70, as well. The removal of at-grade intersections would make the area safer, Weatherd said.

“Now Farmer’s Turnpike traffic has free movements to and from K-10 in all directions — you don’t have to go through an intersection to do it,” Weatherd said. “This modified interchange that keeps all the access here is simpler … (and) it’s safer because of all the intersections that were removed.”

Weatherd said KDOT showed all three of the alternatives to seven focus groups the department met with in the fall. He said the focus groups provided “overall support” for the third alternative.

In other business:

• County commissioners approved awarding a $306,000 contract to Wildcat Construction to repair the county bridge carrying East 1400 Road over the Wakarusa River.

• County Administrator Sarah Plinsky announced the county would participate in the statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m. Tuesday. She said the county’s services in the courthouse, such as the processing motor vehicle registration transactions, may be suspended during that time.

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