The project to replace the east- and westbound bridges over the Kansas River in Lawrence and improve bridges, ramps and interchanges in the vicinity cost $130 million — nearly what it cost to build the entire 236-mile roadway back in the mid-1950s.
The West Lawrence interchange at milepost 202 received new ramp alignments, a new bridge for westbound access and a roundabout to help prevent “T-bone” type collisions. The East Lawrence interchange at milepost 204 was completely rebuilt. It can now serve additional traffic capacity and was constructed to operate with both staffed and remotely-managed lanes.
For a project of this magnitude, the KTA knew it must increase communication eﬀorts. Additional portable variable message signs were purchased, the highway advisory radio was temporarily upgraded and improvements were made to KTA’s website, including the launch of a dedicated project website http://www.SpanningTheFuture.com KTA a.lso began oﬀering project updates via e-mail and text messages and, most recently, installed permanent dynamic message signs in the I-70 corridor.
The improvements took over three years to complete and is expected to serve today’s customers as well as the increase of traffic in the coming years. In preparation for this project, the KTA added a lane at the South Lecompton interchange at milepost 197, as well as an acceleration lane from the plaza onto southbound K-10. To help serve exiting traffic during construction, a temporary dedicated K-TAG lane was installed at the East Lawrence interchange at milepost 204.
Read some remarks by KTA CEO, Michael Johnson
News Article from the Lawrence Journal World
The bridges over the Kansas Turnpike were the first site of construction on the Turnpike, with a December 31, 1954, groundbreaking. That means these bridges are more than 50 years old. While the KTA has taken several steps to prolong the life of the bridges, they still needed to be replaced. Consulting engineers HNTB set the end of the bridges’ useful life at 2012 and new bridges were built to meet that deadline.
Beyond the safety of the project, the KTA also has a high level of interest in the satisfaction of its customers. This means that the new bridges were designed to hold additional capacity which may develop in the future.
The old bridges were demolished in multiple steps, beginning with the removal of the concrete "deck", or what the customers see as the actual roadway. After that, the steel structures were dropped to the ground in several stages with the use of explosives.
The original 1954 bond issue has been paid off and new bonds have been issued for financing safety improvements, major reconstruction projects and upgrading.