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Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

NEWS: Buckle Up!

Construction on Sixth St. leads to discussions over safety
Design+of+pages+4+and+5+from+issue+for+of+the+27+edition+of+the+Free+Press.+Designed+by+Luna+Hu.
Luna Hu
Design of pages 4 and 5 from issue for of the 27 edition of the Free Press. Designed by Luna Hu.

Every day, more than 1,200 students get out of school at 3:10. By 3:30, hundreds of them are still sitting at stoplights or at a standstill in traffic. According to a poll sent out on the @fsjournalism Instagram account, it takes 30-35 minutes to get home on average. Two months ago, that number increased. 

On Nov. 27, 2023, the City of Lawrence started construction on W Sixth St. The construction, part of the 2023 Street Maintenance Program, stretches through most of W Sixth St., causing longer travel times. However, it won’t be done anytime soon. The project is anticipated to end in Summer 2024. 

“It’s definitely made driving a lot longer and I have to leave a lot earlier to get to school,” junior Delaney Bayliss said. “[It took me] 5 minutes to get home, now it takes 40.”

Communication and Community Engagement Specialist for the COL Michael Leos explained that the maintenance work will make the roads safer by improving structural capacity, skid resistance, drainage and ride quality. It will also replace an existing 12 inch waterline near Monterey Way that is currently severely corroded with at least seven main breaks on the lines.

“The existing waterline in this area is severely corroded and has had escalating failures. We’ve at least seven main breaks on these lines,” Leos said. “In many cases, the waterline is within 6th St and breaks are severely disruptive to traffic. The street asphalt pavement is in need of resurfacing.”

One stretch of the construction, located between Wakarusa Drive and Kasold Drive, has raised safety concerns for parents. Free State parent Christopher Chancy expressed his frustrations with having the construction so close to the school.

“[There’s] more potential for accidents, especially as people try to rush,” Chancy said. “Everyone is annoyed with each other and there’s a lot more road rage because of it.”

As the construction spreads, more and more people are looking for alternate routes to get around town. Although living close to Free State, Bayliss has found herself traveling through nearby neighborhoods to avoid as much of the construction as possible.

“I’m right [by the school],” Bayliss said. “One day it was fine and then the next day the streets were torn up.”

In addition to parents and student drivers, those who rely on the bus are seeing differences as well. As a bus driver, Leasha Omeasoo conveyed her concerns with having to drive a larger vehicle through the construction. 

“We’re supposed to be clear behind another vehicle for so many feet and then [other drivers] cut right in,” Omeasoo said. “It’s very dangerous that way.”

As of right now, there are some temporary traffic control solutions put in place by the city. They include putting up various signs, cones and detours for the driver and workers’ safety. Omeasoo has found that it can only do so much because there are so many students.

“[Having] more traffic control here would be nice,” Omeasoo said. “Until then we just have to work on getting the kids home safe.”

Additional information on the program, as well as other streets scheduled for work in the future is available online at https://lawrenceks.org/mso/street-maintenance/

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