Mark Taylor
[email protected]
Johnson County Transit busses will begin using the shoulder along a portion of I-35 as a restricted express lane on Jan. 3.
Busses will only be allowed to use the shoulder when traffic is moving slow or not at all.
While on the shoulder busses will be restricted to traveling no more than 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic, with a maximum speed of 35 mph.
“We think it will be very efficient,” said Chuck Ferguson, deputy transportation director for Johnson County Transit said during a media briefing on Dec. 14.
Thirty to 40 drivers have been trained to use the shoulder to avoid traffic jams and keep busses on schedule as part of a plan to improve and enhance bus service.
Busses will only be allowed to use the shoulder between 95th and Lamar Streets.
If a bus driver encounters a stalled car or other blockage on the shoulder, busses will merge back into traffic until the shoulder is clear.
While on the shoulder, busses will also yeild to traffic entering and exiting the highway.
The “Bus On Shoulder” initiative started nearly 20 years ago in Minnesota. Since then, Chicago, Miami/Dade County, San Diego and Washington D.C.
Another component of the enhanced transportation plan is additional bus stops and park and ride locations along the route.
The stops will include a shelter or station marker featuring digital signage with real-time information regarding arrival and departure times.
Enhanced bus stations are planned for a Gardner location yet to be determined, the Great Mall of the Great Plains (park and ride), Garmin Headquarters, Lindenwood Drive in Olathe, Mid American Nazarene University (Sheridan at Kenwood Drive), 127th and Mur-Len streets, Heartland Church, (park and ride), Palazzolle Theater (park and ride), Blue Valley Baptist Church (park and ride), and Oak Park Mall (park and ride).
Construction on the new shelters is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2012.
“We think very highly of (the plan),” Ferguson said. “We think it is going to make a difference.”