Drivers are getting used to seeing the roadblocks and pylons at the intersection of Broadway and 47th St. on the south side of Wichita, KS. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. The project is part of the federally funded plans to improve roadways all over the city, as well as elsewhere in the U.S. This specific project began in August of 2009, is scheduled for completion in mid-to-late 2011, and has been budgeted for over $16 million. In the meantime, traffic is becoming increasingly problematic.
Few accidents have been recorded at this intersection as of yet, but local residents have begun complaining about drivers who don’t seem to be aware of new speed limits and other rules. New lane lines have drivers confused and running into other lanes. A detour set up for semi-trucks to take them around the hazardous intersection causes traffic backups and delays. Many vehicles make illegal turns by accident because the “no left turn” signs are sometimes there and sometimes not. The goal is to streamline the area and make it easier for traffic to get on and off the highway interchange that’s there, but for now, things are just getting worse.
The issues aren’t helped by the unusual way that the project is being handled. A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Transportation, Tom Hein, told a KAKE interviewer that they “have so many crews working in the area, they’re almost falling over each other at times.” So the south Wichita, KS, intersection has become an obstacle course for both driver and construction worker.
The businesses nearby have a different perspective, however. For them, the hassle of the construction project has resulted in strained sales numbers and fewer faces at the door. Larger chains, like Kmart and Spangles, can get by relying on other stores to pick up the slack. But at least one small business won’t be able to make it to construction’s end. Beautifully Bronzed Tanning Salon, located in a strip mall at the corner, will be closing as a direct result of the loss in sales caused by the traffic problems. Other stores, including a Dollar Tree and Goodwill, are feeling the crunch, as well. Fewer customers are braving the confusion of the construction in order to shop. At a time of economic hardship, this additional strain is making matters worse.
The project’s goals, as stated by KDOT, are “controlling access along 47th Street, adding lanes to provide more capacity, and to provide sufficient service to adjacent business properties.” This will include the rebuilding of four 47th St. bridges near the intersection and the addition of two left-turn lanes for each direction, as well as interstate ramp improvements.