The calendar says we're approaching summer in Johnson County, and that means orange cone season — those ubiquitous symbols of road construction, detours and traffic jams. It's a mess out there, but here are key improvement projects that motorists should watch for, plus innovations in store that could help improve traffic flow.
▪ I-435 from Quivira to Metcalf in Overland Park. This is the second year of a two-year, $16.3 million project to reconstruct the concrete pavement that was near the end of its expected lifespan. Last year the project involved the eastbound lanes and there were a number of accidents.
This year, crews are concentrating on the westbound lanes and expect fewer problems because the east side is already in better condition. The work, which involves lane restrictions and intermittent ramp closures, should be completed by November.
“We’re honestly looking forward to commuters having a really nice section of road,” said Kansas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Laurie Arellano. “This is the heaviest traveled road in the state.”
▪ US-169 from 175th Street to 223rd Street in Olathe. This is a $4.8 million asphalt overlay project. The work involves lane restrictions and intermittent ramp closures and should be finished this summer.
▪ Shawnee Mission Parkway from Metcalf to Roe avenues. This $1.5 million asphalt overlay project will cause round-the-clock lane restrictions except during rush hour and intermittent restricted access to side roads. It should be finished this summer.
▪ I-35 from State Line Road to the Miami County line. This $1.5 million project involves replacement of the big green highway signs with new signs that are more visible, especially at night. The work will cause nightly lane restrictions and intermittent ramp closures. The work will extend through spring 2019.
▪ Metcalf Avenue, 159th to 167th streets. This $17 million reconstruction project involves expansion from a two-lane county road to a four-lane divided concrete roadway with a raised median. It also adds a roundabout at 167th Street, plus bike lanes, sidewalks, storm sewers and restoration. There will be periodic lane closures. Completion is expected in fall 2019.
▪ Quivira Road, 151st to 159th streets. This $9 million reconstruction project involves a two-lane concrete roadway with a raised median, plus sidewalk, trail, street lighting, storm sewers and restoration. It should be completed in mid-November. Quivira is closed to through traffic, and a detour applies, until the project is completed. It will be also be closed to local traffic from 151st to 153rd Street until Aug. 15.
▪ Nieman Road from Shawnee Mission Parkway to 55th Street. Nieman Road is getting major upgrades at an estimated cost of $37 million. The project started about 18 months ago and is expected to be finished in 2019.
This summer’s work involves putting utilities underground. Once that’s done, the city will start to narrow the roadway from four lanes to three (a road diet) to allow more green space for a trail and sidewalk. Plans also call for benches, a pavilion area and other amenities. Nieman Road will have lane closures but will never be completely closed.
▪ Johnson Drive between Woodland Avenue and I-435. This project, estimated at $2.3 million, includes storm sewer improvements, repairs and mill and overlay. It also includes an improved pedestrian crossing west of the Mid-America Sports Complex. The work should begin after July 4 and be completed by Sept. 1.
▪ Olathe just has modest road improvements planned this summer. But it is the first city in the metro area to implement a “smart traffic light technology,” in conjunction with Audi of America and Oregon-based Traffic Technology Services.
The service, free to the city, is available at every traffic signal. It allows select 2017 or newer Audi models to communicate with traffic signals and lets the driver know how much time remains before the light turns green. The city can also use the data to improve traffic flow. Additional car manufacturers and more metro area cities are considering the technology.