Highway construction can cause congestion, and lately the traffic on I-35 from Gardner to Olathe has caused some consternation about the best way to merge safely.
“Earlier this year, we had a lot of construction west out of Johnson County on K-10, and we had some accidents,” said Sgt. Steve Benz, Gardner PD public information officer. “Kansas Department of Transportation has decided that merging patterns needed to be determined based on the traffic flow in each of the construction areas.”
In the past, KDOT recommended zipper lanes. When a lane was closed for construction, motorists could use both lanes of traffic until reaching the merge area, and then alternate like a zipper into the open lane. Now, though, KDOT often recommends early merges or late merges. The merging is explained in detail at ksdot.org/bureaus/kcMetro/merge.asp.
“We do not encourage lane straddling,” Benz said. “If one car straddles two lanes so that no one can get past, it can cause confusion.”
Unless a sign says Do Not Pass, it is legal to go into a less congested lane of traffic and merge into the congested lane before construction work blocks the lane. Speed reduction signs and do not pass signs are enforceable.
“Accidents can happen if motorists wait until the last second for someone to let them into the congested lane, and then run out of road, go too fast, and bump into the orange cones,” Benz said. “All motorists have to honor the road signs.”
Questions about traffic safety can go to the Gardner Police Department, 913-856-7312.