Jayhawk Boulevard construction wraps up in time for fall semester

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 in Campus News and News

As Phase 2 of Jayhawk Boulevard reconstruction nears its conclusion, final details will be completed and fencing removed before Monday’s start of fall classes.

It had been hoped that this summer’s massive project—stretching from Poplar Lane west of Strong Hall to the four-way stop at the intersection of Jayhawk Boulevard and Sunflower Drive—would be completed by early August. But uncooperative weather and unexpected subsurface conditions pushed progress back, as did some quality control issues that forced re-pouring of some concrete.

Even with concrete trucks, assorted work vehicles and laborers toiling under an intense summer sun dotting the scene, the boulevard opened to a careful flow of bus traffic for the first time Tuesday and will be fully open to vehicle and pedestrian traffic by the weekend.

Last summer’s first phase, which stretched from the Chi Omega fountain to Poplar Lane, greatly enhanced lighting, pedestrian safety and the overall look of the aging streetscape at the heart of KU’s scenic campus; it is expected that this summer’s work, which includes the high-traffic area in front of Wescoe Beach, will do the same.

“The pavement was in pretty bad condition. It was never intended for 700 bus trips a day, and it was old, so it was badly rutted and cracked in many areas,” Paul Graves, deputy director of the Office of Design and Construction Management, told the KU Alumni Association in an interview Wednesday. “It’s been replaced with concrete pavement that is much more durable, has a longer useful life to it, and is a little bit more environmentally friendly; for one thing, it’s lighter colored so it absorbs less heat.”

Metal halide street lights have been replaced by LED, which provides a better quality light and is more energy efficient. Sidewalks on both sides of the boulevard have been replaced, crosswalks have been improved, curb cuts were widened to meet current ADA standards, unruly vegetation was removed and curbside parking eliminated, all of which improve pedestrian safety on the busy campus artery.

Graves also noted that the old sidewalks, which were cracked, settled and lifted, created trip hazards that are now eliminated.

“If you stand at the interface between the old and new [sidewalks],” he said, “it’s a really stark difference.”

Next summer’s work will extend the improvements from Sunflower Drive to 14th Street, and summer 2016 will take the improvements to the north entrance at 13th Street.

Despite the unexpected challenges that pushed the project against a tight deadline, Graves emphasized that he and his KU construction colleagues are pleased with the final product.

“And we hope the entire campus community is as well,” he said.

—Chris Lazzarino

See photos of the progress in the slideshow below, or click here to view them on Flickr.

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