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Can’t Get There From Here: The Outrageous Traffic Catch-22 of Lawrence, KS: Everyday Magic, Da

Updated: Sep 28, 2023


This is kind of understandable although not a happy thing: we still have, or at least had, Iowa St. to the west of us only now Iowa is narrowed to a crawl at its intersection with the very busy 23rd Street because of road repairs. To the west of Iowa, via Clinton Parkway, there’s Wakarusa Road, which we could, in a pinch and if we didn’t mind going five miles or so west, use to get to the town, but I just read construction is happening there too.

Which means we, and anyone who lives in the southern half of Lawrence, are not a happy or accessible lot. The make-a-way-out-of-no-way routes includes treating the morning or evening drive like a maze, only one in which the open pathways shift or get more complicated at the drop of a hat when there’s extra traffic, more construction (also on 23rd and Louisiana), or just bad luck.

A few days ago, I explored a series of intersecting dirt roads to the east of town, almost making it over the hump and into the city until bridge construction and then a dead end sent me back to Haskell to wait for 10 minutes while a truck unloaded its long line of gravel. Ken showed me yesterday his complicated and seemingly counter-intuitive way to get to the town via the dirt roads, and it worked, but I have no idea how we actually broke through the time-space continuum to get to 23rd street.

I tend not to be a person who bitches about construction too much: I expect long waits here, there yonder to repave roads, fill potholes, or widen the margins of the street. But what if the total effect of all these improvements or new roads chokes out any simple and constant ways to get from here to there? Welcome to our summer and perhaps fall.

In the meantime, I’m trying to remind myself to leave 10 minutes earlier than usual, bring along a cold drink, some antacid and perhaps a good magazine for long waits, and chill out. It’s a headache, a confusion, a hassle, and a convergence of what happens when planners don’t look at the whole picture and consider the likes of me and my kind (all of us south-of-the-Wakarusans). Yet it’s also a first world problem, so as we do with such problems, a chance to bitch in chorus, roll our eyes, and then ferret out new ways through and into our town.

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