Friday, July 29, 2011
You might be able to hear a huge sigh of relief from people on the south side of Wichita. It's the end of the road for a huge construction project that has been causing many headaches. If you live anywhere near 47th and Broadway, you'll know what we mean.
The project started in August, 2009. The interchange at 47th and I-135, especially, had been outdated for many years. Engineers said it was unable to handle the volume of cars and growth that the south side experienced over the last few years.
"A pain in the rear," said one driver filling up at a nearby gas station.
"Frantic, hectic, cluttered," said another.
To say the least. For anyone who often travels along 47th Street, it's been a long two years. And for the businesses who depend on the cars to stop and spend, it's been even harder.
"I know if you drive through this every day, you've thought 'Wow, how can this keep going?'' said Tom Hein, KDOT Spokesman.
The 47th Street project from Broadway to I-135 has been a long time coming. One of the best features? The old, outdated clover leaf interchange for the highway is now gone.
"It was a very complicated project, but a lot of things got done," Hein explained. "There is a new interchange at I-135 and 47th Street. There are four new bridges along the project. Extra turn lanes. Access to the businesses along 47th and Broadway is much improved."
The project will allow for more development for commerce and the overall vitality and well-being of the south side.
"Driving through here every day, it's a lot easier with it being done," said Michelle Taylor. "You can turn where you want to when you want to."
At 47th and Broadway, all of the lanes are now open, with protected left turn lanes in all four directions. Although you might see a few traffic cones for the next few weeks, the project is 95% finished.
"Permanent striping is down and permanent traffic signals are up," Hein said.
The project should be complete just ahead of schedule. The entire $16-million cost of the project was funded by the federal stimulus package.