21st Street detours Washburn

Orange Cones Galore City of Topeka construction workers continue to tear up the corner of 21st and Washburn Avenue. Construction will cease on Dec. 1 and pick back up sometime in the spring of 2012. The project is a continuation of the half cent sales tax plan.

Orange cones and flashing arrows have been popping up throughout Topeka during the summer and into the fall months. Along with construction, frustrations build as drivers struggle to get to their destinations on time.  The intersection at 21st Street and Washburn Avenue is no exception. The intersection borders the southeast corner of the Washburn campus and is  one of the construction projects that affects Washburn students and faculty the most.

“It is part of our 10-year plan laid out with the Half-Cent Sales Tax for the purpose of fixing the roads,” said Dave Bevens, Topeka city spokesman.

The Half-Cent Sales Tax Plan began in 2009 and will go until 2019.

The Half-Cent Retailers’ Sales Tax was approved by Topeka voters and authorized by the City Council for the purpose of paying for maintenance and improvements to existing streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, alleys and street lighting. The tax will expire after 10 years.

“The construction of 21st Street started June 1, and it was one of the dozens of projects,” said Bevens. “There will be more the next year and the year after. We are going to keep going until we get all of them done.”

The budget for the whole Half-Cent Sales Tax is set at $700,000. The estimated cost for the 21st Street project is $450,000.

The goal is to transform 21st Street from California Avenue all the way to Wittenburg Road.

But during the construction process students must take detours and find alternative routes to get to Washburn.

“It’s very frustrating because that is usually the way I take to get back home and it takes a lot of time,” said Jessica Crowder, Washburn senior in music education. “I understand that they need to fix the roads but I don’t see how what they are doing now will really fix the problem.”

Bevens said that in the near future the intersection at 21st Street and Washburn Avenue will also be completely closed for at least five days.

“Hopefully by the first of December we will be out of there until spring,” said Bevens.

It appears that the construction will end just before Washburn students leave for winter break and start up again just in time for the start of the spring semester.

Bevens said that there will be more construction to the roads surrounding the Washburn campus in the near future.

For more information about the half-cent sales tax visit www.topeka.org and click on the picture in the bottom right-hand corner of the penny. Detailed plans are laid out on the website.

“The construction is everywhere in Topeka,” said Crowder. “It’s frustrating when it’s down to one lane and you are stuck at the back of the line. I’ll be glad when it’s done.”