Thursday, September 6, 2012
After months of headaches for Wichita drivers, things are starting to get better at one of the city's busiest intersections.
A construction project that began in March to install dual left turn lanes and safety medians at 21st Street North and Maize Road is nearly finished, two months before its expected completion date.
Drivers, shoppers and business owners are relieved the project is nearly at an end.
"I just had to make adjustments while the project was going on," said northwest Wichita resident Aimee Brewer, whose commute takes her through the intersection daily. "I actually take some shortcuts now and, today, I actually went the normal direction without ever taking my little shortcuts and it actually saved me more time than taking my shortcuts."
Brewer said she knows the $2.2 million project and its inconveniences were necessary.
"I think with the growth of Wichita, especially on the west side, and all the businesses that are building up right here, it's definitely going to help all the businesses start making more money again," she said.
That's what the owners of those businesses are hoping for, too.
Heads Shoe Store manager Erin Pool said business was cut nearly in half during the project.
"It cut our traffic significantly, so we're hoping as soon as everybody hears and knows that the flow of traffic is easier to get through, they'll come back in and shop again," Pool said.
She also understands the area's rapid growth made the intersection improvements necessary.
"I imagine it'll spur more people this way once it's completely done," Pool said. "I think that it grew so quickly as it was that we were ready for the change."
Helping with the excitement is the fact the project is finishing well ahead of its Nov. 1 deadline.
"I think we're all really excited," Brewer said. "We can already see the flow has changed and everybody seems to be really happy. It's going to make things go a lot faster."
Construction crews still have some sod work to complete along the sides of 21st Street and Maize Road. City engineers say that work should be done by the end of next week.