WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Road construction in the heart of Wichita is changing the way thousands of drivers get around each day. It’s causing headaches for some travelers but also for people who live nearby.
Some people who live near the bridge say people are speeding through their neighborhood.
Many neighbors said they are happy about the bridge project, but some are concerned about the traffic increase, some even calling it out of control.
“We knew it was coming. We knew people were going to be cutting through neighborhoods,” said Wichita District 6 City Council Member Maggie Ballard.
Ron Grose, who lives near the bridge, said speeding by his house has always concerned him.
“Now noticed not only is the speed still an issue now there is more traffic,” said Ron Grose.
The City is aware of the issues.
Before the project even started, engineers tracked traffic in the area.
Since construction started, engineers said traffic has increased in some parts by 20%, but other streets are even busier.
“You look at the area of 20th and Woodrow. We saw an almost a 50% increase in traffic from prior to the bridge being closed,” said City of Wichita Engineer Gary Janzen.
The City said that currently, none of the data is alarming enough to bring in traffic-calming measures, but if a spot does see new issues, engineers will work to make changes.
Meanwhile, Wichita police had traffic trailers in some parts and are enforcing the speed limit.
“There are some speeders. You will see a few people going 60 mph in some areas, unfortunately, but that happens all the time that was going on before the bridge was closed,” said Janzen.
The busiest areas are congested during the mornings and late afternoons.
Grose said he avoids the area near Woodrow and 21st Street during those times.
“There is a big, huge bottleneck of traffic, and it is almost every day,” said Grose.
The City said it understands neighbors’ concerns but said there’s not much it can do to keep drivers away.
“Everybody seems to be in a hurry right now, and I would just always encourage people to watch their speed. There are a lot of kids playing, especially as we come up on the holidays,” said Ballard.
The Wichita Police Department was unavailable to comment on the traffic safety in the area.
The City said the bridge project is on track with plans to reopen to drivers in December 2023 and be fully finished in spring 2024.