The new interchange at I-35 and Lone Elm Road partially opened today (the Lone Elm Road and 159th Street bridges over I-35 opened; the ramps to and from I-35 are not open yet), and I got some pictures of the new bike lanes at the interchange.
Here’s the view looking north towards the new interchange. At this point, the road is asphalt with a concrete curb and a narrow sidewalk.
This is the first intersection headed north. The road to the right is a church parking lot. The road to the left is the off-ramp leading from northbound I-35, and the on-ramp leading to northbound I-35. The bike lane continues straight through this intersection, with potential conflicts between cyclists continuing straight in the bike lane, and motorists turning right.
This is the next intersection headed north, at 159th and Lone Elm. Again, there are potential conflicts between cyclists continuing straight in the bike lane, and motorists turning right.
After proceeding up and over the bridge, you come to this intersection. The roads to the right lead to and from southbound I-35. Here, the bike lane becomes a dashed line, indication where motorists should cross the bike and to get to the dedicated right turn lane. There’s also a “Yield to Bikes” sign. Nice. (But will drivers respect it?)
Continuing north, the next intersection is similar, in that there’s a dedicated right turn lane and dashed bike lines. But here there’s no “Yield to Bikes” sign. Why?
Now we’ve crossed the street and we’re looking south. This is the approach to the bridge on Lone Elm over I-35. Note the wide separated pedestrian path on the right. On the other side of the bridge (northbound) the pathway is narrower; not sure why they’re different.
This is a view westbound over the new 159th Street bridge over I-35. This road has no bike lanes (though it looks wide enough to accommodate them). There is a pedestrian path on only one side of the bridge.
This is one of the grates on the 159th Street bridge. It’s not exactly a wheel-swallower, but if your tire gets into one of the groves and you try to change direction, it could throw you. It seems like it would have worked better with the grid running the other direction…
This is looking back north towards 159th and Lone Elm from the southbound bike lane. Two things to note here:
- The wide pedestrian sidepath has dead-ended after crossing 159th via the crosswalk. Not sure what is intended here…
- There’s a “Wrong Way – Ride With Traffic” sign targeted towards cyclists who don’t understand they’re riding on the wrong side of the road (the other side of the sign says “Bike Lane”). This is a nice touch!
And finally, this is the end of the southbound bike lane. Past this point the road reverts to a standard rural two-lane road with gravel shoulders. There are not one but two “Share The Road” signs. You’ll also note that where the bike lane begins on the other side of the street, there’s another one of those “wrong way” signs for any cyclists who’ve managed to ride all this way on the wrong side of the street.
Construction started on this interchange project in 2008, but it had been in the planning stages for years before that. The inclusion of bike/ped facilities was a hot topic, with much advocacy from local cyclists required to procure, in particular, bike lanes on this crucial corridor.
Much thanks goes to Dale Crawford and the Johnson County Bicycle Club who spearheaded and organized this effort. Without their involvement, this project would have turned Lone Elm into another dangerous arterial road. You can read some of the history of this effort at MoBikeFed.org
See also: New Olathe interchange starts opening today and New Lone Elm/I-35 interchange nearly completed in Olathe. You can also visit the City of Olathe’s project web site for details about the project, including drawings and documents.