WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A busy Wichita bridge is about to close, which will force an estimated 16,000 drivers per day to find another route.
The Amidon bridge improvement project is also changing where fire crews do business in the area.
Taking a new approach, the Wichita Fire Department is constructing a makeshift station (Fire Station 23) near the corner of 13th and West in the parking lot of Dillons.
For the next 18 months, the grocery store’s parking lot will be the temporary fire station’s home. The station is expected to open on Oct. 3.
“We’ll run this station with four people 24/7, so it’s very comparable to what we do across the city,” WFD Capt. Christopher Lane said.
Capt. Lane says this is a unique situation for the department, as the closure of the Amidon bridge meant response times would have doubled without a backup plan.
“The closest station is Station 7 over at 21st and Coolidge. With the bridge being closed, it’s going to have an eight-minute response time,” Capt. Lane said.
But with this new station, that response time will be cut in half—keeping with average response times across the city. The response times were one of several concerns for area residents at a project meeting held at the Wichita Workforce Center Wednesday.
City of Wichita Construction Manager Steve Degenhardt says the city will monitor traffic counts in the coming weeks before making any decisions on additional signage in residential areas.
“If it meets warrant, we would certainly consider it, but it has to meet the right conditions to warrant it. Otherwise, it will have actually a negative impact,” Degenhardt said.
Degenhardt says the city has also been working closely with USD 259 to boost the safety of students who live in the area.
“There is going to be increased risk, but with good information and education, I think we can heads up people and just warn them to be more alert, especially the kids,” resident Linda Zehr said.
Another concern is city transit. The city will open 17 additional bus stops on a temporary route once the project starts. All traffic will be diverted in the area starting Oct. 3.