Drivers who drive Interstate 435 in Overland Park might want to find an alternative route this weekend.
The eastbound lanes of the heavily traveled highway will be reduced to one lane as crews get ready for the start the second half of the $16.34 million I-435 pavement reconstruction project.
Westbound lanes will see multiple lane closures intermittently this weekend, too, as crews mark the pavement and prepare the work zone, which is roughly between U.S. 69 and Metcalf Avenue.
"We are asking people to plan for multiple lane closures through the weekend and allow more time to come through the area," said Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
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"Or the better plan really would be to plan an alternate route," she said, suggesting College Boulevard and 103rd Street as alternatives.
On Monday, the two left lanes of westbound I-435 will be closed from Metcalf Avenue to Quivira Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. KDOT expects to shift traffic into its long-term configuration for this year's work by Monday evening's rush hour.
Crews began marking lanes this week and are expected to continue the work Friday. Drivers could see delays and reduced number of lanes between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The two-year massive pavement reconstruction project began last year. Crews are removing and replacing the pavement, some of which is more than 40 years old, from just west of U.S. 69 to Metcalf Avenue. Workers are basically ripping out the old pavement and replacing it with new concrete pavement.
Although the length of the project is relatively small, only 2.5 miles, it will have a major impact on the nearly 140,00 vehicles a day that travel through that portion of the I-435.
This year's work focuses on the westbound lanes. For the next several months, I-435 will be limited to three lanes in each direction. Lanes will be shifted to the south and two westbound through lines will cross over onto the eastbound pavement.
The posted speed limit will be 55 mph through the work zone. Drivers should plan for a 15 to 20 minute delay for the duration of the project, Arellano said.
During the spring and summer months, crews will replace the pavement for the two right lanes. A short-term closure of the ramps to and from Antioch Road is expected.
Once that work is completed, crews will replace the pavement for the two left lanes of westbound I-435. This fall, crews will remove temporary pavement and reconstruct the median.
The work is expected to be completed by mid-November, at which time traffic will shift back to its normal configuration.
The work last year on the eastbound lanes was marred by several significant crashes in the work zone, including one on July 17 that involved five vehicles and shut down the highway. Willie "Darryl" Wilson, who was pulled from the fiery crash, died weeks later.
Some of the crashes were caught on video by traffic cameras, including one in April where sparks went flying as a tractor trailer slammed into barriers, moving more than 40 temporary barriers.
The Overland Park Police Department released video of an August crash that showed a tractor trailer crashing and bursting into flames.
Concerned about the number of wrecks, KDOT officials decided to add rumble strips into the pavement to alert drivers that they were entering a construction zone.
"We will not be putting in rumble strips this year," said Arellano, who added that they are not typical leading into work zones. "We did this last year prior to the US-69 exit, but we have a different setup this year at that location."
Last year, some of the eastbound traffic was shifted onto westbound lanes, which had bad pavement and drivers had to be vigilant for potholes. This year, the traffic that is running in the counter-flow lanes will be running on better pavement, which is an improvement in conditions in itself, Arellano said.
"We understand that this is a disruption to our commuters," she said. "This is one of the heavier traveled section of highway in the entire state. It is definitely time to replace this pavement and to make it a good stretch of road for our commuters."