Left turns off north Vine onto 45th Street will be allowed starting later this fall.
Construction on the $80,000 redo of the existing intersection there will start later this summer or early fall, according to city project manager John Braun.
The construction will take about six weeks, Braun said in a briefing Thursday to the Hays City Commission where commissioners approved the project.
Right now, no left turns are allowed where 45th enters onto Vine. With a median block access, it remains a busy area where cars come and go on the way to Walmart, restaurants and other businesses that have popped up there over the years.
"The intersection has right-in, right-out access only and allows no left turn onto or off of Vine Street from 45th Street," Braun told commissioners.
The intersection as it is now was constructed in 2007 as part of a system enhancement project by the Kansas Department of Transportation, he said.
A new three-quarter intersection will allow left turns off of Vine Street for north- and southbound traffic.
Left turns will still be prohibited onto Vine Street, he said.
"Future peak traffic volume estimates are somewhere in the 220 vehicle per hour turning left off of Vine onto westbound 45th," Braun told the commissioners during their regular meeting.
A three-quarter intersection at 45th is the next level up from right-in right-out access, he said, allowing some access to businesses, but still keeping conflict points on the busy highway to a minimum.
City Commissioner Sandy Jacobs indicated the three-quarter intersection will also benefit traffic a few blocks south on Vine.
"I think it’s a great idea," Jacobs said. "The traffic that comes south into Hays is minimal compared to the mess that I think there is at 43rd. So I think you’re going to see a lot of people head on up to that next intersection and be able to turn in without having to stop at a stoplight. I think it’s going to be a huge improvement in that area."
She asked Braun if he’s talked to the businesses around 45th Street about the redo.
"There’s been talk of it over the years," Braun said. "It has been brought up numerous times in various different settings and various different meetings how it would be beneficial to businesses in that area if that left turn movement were allowed off Vine."
The work will be done in-house by the city services department, starting with demolition and removal of the existing median, then salvaging landscaping, followed by six weeks of construction.
Commissioner Ron Mellick asked why a three-quarter intersection wasn’t built in 2007.
Braun said access along Vine has evolved over the years under KDOT planning and review, since the four-lane thoroughfare through Hays is also US-183 highway.
"You can actually see the progression of access management if you look at Vine Street from the south north," Braun said. "At the south end it’s kind of Wild West, so to speak, it’s free-for-all, intersections everywhere."
Then between 27th and Interstate 70 there are frontage roads, which allow less direct access to Vine.
"Then when you look north of I-70, you have the reverse access roads, which are set back, and you have even less access to Vine Street," he said, which allows highway traffic to flow freely.
That’s been at the expense of businesses along there, he said.
"So that is why we’re coming back now," Braun said. "This change in the intersection configuration will benefit and support future development along 45th Street, both east and west of Vine."
Commissioner Mason Ruder asked whether similar plans are in the works for S. Vine as part of the planned S. Vine reconstruction.
"We’re pretty much keeping access freed up and as it is," Braun said. "We just have lower volumes of traffic down at that end of Vine, and don’t really see the need to restrict the access."