If you’ve attempted to drive down 17th street lately, you’ve probably noticed that the landscaping is changing. For the past couple of weeks, city crews have began removing trees and marking city service lines to prepare for the 17th Street Project. The 17th Street Project, as I will lovingly refer to it, is a street revitalization project from Washburn to Macvicar, via 17th Street. Most recently, the entire street section has been closed and huge parts of the road are missing.
As a joint project between the city and Bartlett & West, the 17th Street Project will culminate with the beautification of the southern border of College Hill. The plans include new storm sewers to improve drainage to the west and additional inlets at Mulvane, a significant reduction in the number of power poles, decorative street lighting on the north and south sides of the roadway, a five foot sidewalk on the north side and eight foot sidewalk on the south side, and a three-lane roadway with landscaped medians.
The 17th Street Project is just a small part of the City’s huge year of street projects from revenue collected from a citywide half-cent sales tax to fix streets in primarily residential neighborhoods. In early March, Topeka City council approved a $2.46 million budget for the project, which includes $1.25 million in sales tax dollars. The City plans to finance the remainder of the project, using private contributions, operating funds and money borrowed through general obligation bonds.
Because the 17th Street Project is occurring in two phases, with short detours, your normal day shouldn’t be interrupted too much. However, during construction, the Topeka Metro cannot make stops in the construction zone. Alternative routes will be posted on www.topekametro.org. Most importantly, (to me and other coffee lovers), you can still get your daily PT’s fix, through the entrance on Lane. Construction is scheduled to be completed in December. By then, we’ll be old pros at creating alternative routes.