Broadway Bridge Reconstruction Project Set to Begin

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Traffic could be affected by a major road construction project scheduled to get underway this week.

Crews are expected to begin work on south Wichita's Broadway Bridge.

The bridge has been around for seven decades. It was built in 1938.

"This bridge was necessary originally because it was what they called a 'dead man's crossing.' The bridge and the railroad tracks ran almost parallel," said Lynn Behnke, whose family has lived next to the bridge since the 1940's.

Following some minor improvements in 2007, now, the bridge will be reconstructed over the next year and a half.

"I've seen the planning the city is doing," Behnke said. "I'm hoping it will be real successful."

What the city is planning to do is limit traffic to one lane in each direction on South Broadway between Patterson and 38th as crews work on the project. The $15 million project aims to create a four-lane bridge. It'll also include work on 37th and Topeka Streets.

"It's time for maintenance and renovation," Tom Cloyd said. "The new project is going to benefit everybody."

The project will take some time to complete. The tentative completion date is August 2014.

While the project means changes for drivers, for Lynn Benhke and her husband it has meant moving their entire house.

"(The city) moved it 800 yards so we can stay in the same neighborhood, close to the family business," Behnke said.

That's because the house is a historic building. Behnke says it was built for the daughter of Buffalo Bill Matthewson. She says it still has a bootlegger's cellar left over from Prohibition days.

Behnke says she believes the city has worked hard to make sure this transition goes smoothly for her and for motorists.

"I think the city has been considerate as they could for everybody along the way," Behnke said.

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