Monday, November 12, 2012
Drivers north of Wichita will want to pay attention to a road closure causing some traffic troubles near Valley Center. It affects the 85th Street bridge between Seneca and Meridian.
85th Street is one of only about three or four access points into and out of Valley Center, so this is really a big deal to thousands of people who use it every day. Starting tomorrow, you won't be able to enter or leave Valley Center using 85th Street.
"That's going to put a lot of traffic downtown," groans Valley Center resident Carolyn Hazen.
Two of the alternative routes go straight through the Valley Center downtown area. First, 77th Street from the east. Second, Meridian from the south.
"They're probably going to make this a double road anyway, so it's better to have the bridge wider now than it is to wait and have to redo it anyway," Hazen said.
That is exactly the plan, according to Valley Center City Administrator Joel Pile.
"We need to increase the capacity lane-wise, so we'll be adding an additional lane to the bridge," Pile said. "It's classified as a structurally deficient bridge, meaning that it's showing signs of deterioration, so it's time to be replaced."
It will start out with three lanes, but will be able to handle four lanes when Valley Center eventually widens the entire roadway from Broadway into town. Plus, the new bridge will have a pedestrian walk, too. It will be very similar to the bridge recently built on 77th Street last year.
"That bridge is almost identical to the bridge we're building on 5th Street. It took about 8 months," Pile said. "We did have the rainy season, but the contractor is optimistic that he'll be able to get in and get it done pretty quickly."