Beginning on Monday, April 29, the 21st Street bridge over I-470 will be fully closed to vehicular traffic and open only to pedestrians and bike on the north sidewalk. There will be a signed detour using 17th Street. Westbound I-470 off and on ramps will be fully closed. The northbound I-470 off ramp to 21st Street and the I-470 northbound on ramp from 21st will also both be closed for the duration. Although through traffic will be prohibited, local access to the businesses between Belle Avenue and I-470 will be maintained. This section of roadway carries about 27,000 vehicles a day.
The city gave several reasons why the complete “emergency” closure is being done:
- The concrete pavement was already showing signs of significant deterioration at the joints, and the situation was made noticeably worse by the harsh winter.
- KDOT will be starting their project to overlay I-470 northbound on or before June 15. The City’s project must be completed prior to the beginning of that overlay work or wait until it is finished. It is our opinion that 21st Street cannot be adequately and safely maintained until after the I-470 work, so we have to act immediately.
- Worker and driver safety. This is a high traffic location. In order to protect construction workers and drivers, full closure is a safer alternative than a complicated, ever changing maze of signs, cones and barricades.
- The full closure will allow the work to be finished in a much shorter time period. The Contractor is required to be finished on or before June 1st or they will face financial penalties.
- A full closure costs significantly less. The cost of maintaining through traffic while constructing roads is expensive.
- There are several construction projects already underway on the west side of Topeka. But there are more projects scheduled to start later in the summer. It is important that the 21st work be completed before these other projects begin to help with the inevitable inconvenience of multiple projects.