Campus road construction scheduled this year
- Feb. 18, 2013
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Construction began yesterday to repave Iowa Street between 15th Street and the Irving Hill Overpass, kicking off a series of projects to occur this year on heavy-traffic roads throughout Lawrence and on campus.
The City of Lawrence is scheduled to reconstruct Iowa Street through December; 15th Street over spring break in March and from May to August; and Bob Billings Parkway from May to August. While 15th Street will be closed entirely, Iowa and Bob Billings will be reduced to one lane. Commuters should expect delays during construction and are recommended to follow detours or avoid these streets while access is limited.
The city’s streets won’t be alone in construction. The University will begin its own construction of Jayhawk Boulevard this summer, breaking the project up over four summers until 2016.
“Jayhawk Boulevard is a centerpiece of the new KU historic district,” said Paul Graves, Deputy Director with the University’s Office of Design and Construction Management. “It is being reconstructed to retain essential historic elements in terms of street width, sidewalk widths, and adding more trees.”
Construction will focus on improving the boulevard by replacing deteriorated asphalt with concrete pavement. Graves hopes the pavement, which will be much more durable for the traffic of heavy KU transport buses, will last for longer than 30 years. Cracked and unevenly surfaced sidewalks will be replaced. Construction will also replace ramps from street surface to sidewalks, ensuring that the new ramps meet current accessibility standards.
While the streets are unpaved, water lines will also be replaced in order to update to current standards, and storm water drainage will be installed in all areas.
According to conceptual designs, 60 canopy trees will be planted, paying homage to when Jayhawk Boulevard was lined with American elm trees that were decimated by Dutch elm disease.
Finally, the construction has been designed to be as consistent as possible with the University’s sustainability plan. Conventional street lights, for example, will be replaced with energy-efficient LED luminaires.
The University and the City of Lawrence have collaborated to create a construction schedule that limits inconvenience for residents and students.
“We’re doing this in the summer when, hopefully, the least amount of people will be inconvenienced,” Graves said.
Fortunately, Graves said, KU and the city offer plenty of alternative sidewalks and routes. Additionally, since the construction will be phased in four parts, Jayhawk Boulevard will never be entirely closed down.
“The pavement will be smoother and more durable so whether walking on the sidewalks, bicycling down the street, riding a bus, it’s going to be a safer and more convenient trip,” Graves said. “Ultimately, it will also have a nicer appearance. With time, as the additional trees mature, it will be more shaded and more pleasant to walk along, especially in the heat of summer.”
Emily is a freshman majoring in English and studying Sociology and Journalism from from Kansas City, Kan. Read more from Emily Donovan.