Construction to begin on new K-7 interchange
Beginning next month, travel in the area of Johnson Drive and Kansas Highway 7 will see some major changes.
About 300 people attended an open house Thursday at Monticello Trails Middle School to hear about construction of an interchange set to begin March 15 at the intersection. Representatives from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the city and George Butler Associates, the firm that designed the interchange, were on hand to explain the phasing for the $21.4 million project and answer questions.
A map provided for all who attended the meeting showed the details of the phasing. The longest period of construction will be for Phases 1 and 2, from March 2010 to June 2011.
During this period, most of the roundabout interchange will be constructed to the east of the current intersection. New lanes leading up to the interchange also will be constructed to the east of the current lanes.
While the interchange is built, K-7 will be open to through traffic but will be reduced to one lane in each direction north of Johnson Drive. Access to K-7 east to Johnson Drive will be closed.
The traffic signal will remain operational to allow access to businesses west of the highway at Hedge Lane Terrace, but 55th street will be closed west of Hedge Lane Terrace as a roundabout is constructed. A cul-de-sac also will be constructed on Meadow View Drive to cut off the street’s access to 55th Street, as it will be too close to the roundabout.
During this time, residential areas west of K-7 will have to take Old K-7 to 47th Street to access the highway. Traffic on K-7 also will be able to use the signal at Clear Creek Parkway to access Hedge Lane Terrace north to the commercial developments on the west side of the highway.
Helping ease the traffic flow later this year, but also increasing construction until then, will be two city projects.
Paul Lindstrom, city project engineer, said Silverheel Street would be constructed from April to July, connecting Clear Creek Parkway to 66th Street. This will provide more north/south access from K-7 through the temporary traffic light at Clear Creek Parkway and K-7.
The city had planned to construct Silverheel last year, but problems with right-of-way and utility easements delayed the project.
Lindstrom said the roundabout at Johnson Drive and Roberts Street also would be constructed over the summer in a way that would allow traffic to continue to access Roberts to the north and south.
In Phase 3 of construction, in July of 2011, Hedge Lane Terrace will be realigned at 55th Street and old sections of the highway south of Johnson Drive will be connected to the new sections leading to the interchange.
In Phase 4, set for August 2011, more connections will be made from old portions of the highway to new portions.
In Phase 5, set for September and November 2011, the new interchange will be open and the intersection at Clear Creek Parkway and K-7 will be closed. An overpass bridge will be constructed for Clear Creek Parkway.
Doug Wesselschmidt, city engineer, said half the questions he heard at the public meeting were just as much about economic development in the area as the interchange’s construction — people wanted to know when the Wal-Mart would begin construction or if the Sonic Drive-In removed for the realignment of Hedge Lane Terrace would be rebuilt elsewhere.
But he said other concerns largely had to do with access in the area during construction, the ability to get from one side of the highway to the other, and increased traffic on mostly residential streets.
That was a major concern for Keith Backlund, who lives near 51st Street and Woodsonia Drive. He saw how traffic might be directed to get off at 47th Street and use Silverheel Street and Woodsonia Drive to get to Johnson Drive on the east side of the highway.
“This is the first time I’ve heard they would route it down here,” he said.
He and some of his neighbors said they would like to see the city do something to ensure that increased traffic traveling along the streets maintain the speed limit in the area.
With even fewer north-south thoroughfares on the west side of the highway, several residents also were concerned about being limited to using Old K-7 to get to 47th Street for highway access.