3-month project to improve safety at troubled intersection of South Lawrence Trafficway
photo by: Kansas Department of Transportation
Work will begin soon on a project to address safety issues and congestion on a troubled intersection of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Starting Monday, the first phase of improvements to the intersection where the trafficway meets 27th Street and Wakarusa Drive will begin, according to an announcement from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The improvements include a new turn lane, an extension of an existing turn lane, layout changes to prohibit other turns, relocation of a crosswalk and the addition of a flashing pedestrian crossing beacon.
Cars traveling on the trafficway must stop at a stoplight, which currently allows motorists coming from 27th Street or Wakarusa Drive to get onto the trafficway or cross the trafficway so they can arrive at a sports complex or city park located on the other side. The stoplight also allows for pedestrians to cross the trafficway to arrive at those locations. Following the changes, motorists will only be able to get onto the trafficway or cross the trafficway to enter the sports complex or park via Wakarusa Drive. Motorists leaving the sports complex or the park can still go either direction on the trafficway, and if crossing the trafficway can still turn left onto Wakarusa Drive or right onto 27th Street.
The trafficway is a section of Kansas Highway 10 that runs along Lawrence’s southern border, and the intersection is a common site for bottlenecks and accidents. KDOT announced last year that it would make the interim improvements ahead of the upcoming project to expand the width of the SLT, which is still in its first phases, as the Journal-World has previously reported.
There were 20 accidents at the SLT’s intersection with 27th Street/Wakarusa Drive over a 20-month period in 2018 and 2019, according to information previously provided by KDOT. Previous safety improvements have included the installation of a queue warning system in advance of the intersection.
The $4.3 million improvement project that begins Monday will occur in two phases and is expected to be complete in mid-October, according to the release. The first phase consists of several safety improvements to the intersection, and the second phase consists of a resurfacing of a section of the trafficway. Phase one includes the following improvements:
• Adding an eastbound right turn lane on K-10 for drivers to enter the sports complex.
• Extending the length of the existing westbound right turn lane on K-10 that leads into Wakarusa Drive and 27th Street.
• Adding lane assignments and pavement markings to Wakarusa Drive and restricting left turn movements from 27th Street to Wakarusa Drive.
• Moving the crosswalk farther west, which will allow for a shorter crosswalk length. A pedestrian-activated crossing beacon will also be installed at the relocated crosswalk.
• Additional pedestrian use signage will be added to K-10, Wakarusa Drive and 27th Street.
The release states that the improvements will reduce wait times on Wakarusa Drive, improve traffic flow on K-10 and eliminate the conflict point between Wakarusa Drive and 27th Street.
During the project, drivers will encounter various lane closures, and the width of traffic lanes will be reduced to 12 feet in the work area. KDOT advises drivers to pay attention to signs placed in advance of each phase of work. Work on the project will mostly occur during daylight hours, but there will be some weekend and nighttime closures at the intersection.
The second phase of the project, which will resurface a section of the trafficway, is scheduled to begin in mid-August or early September. Mill and overlay of trafficway will occur from the Farmer’s Turnpike to the U.S. 59/K-10 junction. Work will take place from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
During the second phase, drivers should expect delays of about 15 minutes. Traffic will be controlled using a lane width reduction to 12 feet in the work area, speed limit signs, traffic cones and barricades. A pilot car operation will guide traffic during the nighttime hours.
When the SLT’s western leg is expanded, that project will eliminate the at-grade crossing of the trafficway at 27th Street/Wakarusa Drive and replace it with ramp access. KDOT began a three-year environmental impact study on the SLT lane expansion project in September 2018, and the study will be completed next year. Under the study, the expansion options currently being considered include both an open-access freeway and a partially tolled highway of either four or six lanes.