Limited access, 1-way traffic among challenges with Bel Aire road construction

It’s a project aimed to expand a busy stretch of North Woodlawn from north Wichita into Bel Aire.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 9:46 PM CST
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BEL AIRE, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s a project aimed to expand a busy stretch of North Woodlawn from north Wichita into Bel Aire. But the limited access to neighborhoods and one-way traffic are challenges that have led to frustrations for homeowners and businesses.

Wednesday, 12 News spoke with people who live or work in the area near the stretch of Woodlawn form 37th to 45th streets and with the City of Bel Aire about when the project could be complete.

Drivers who travel the stretch of North Woodlawn from Wichita to Bel Aire said the work zone has become a source of frustration due to delays and changing traffic patterns. With another phase of the project starting this week, many are asking the city when the work will be done.

That work began in November 2021. Crews are working to add a turn lane, improve drainage and add walking paths. However, neighbors on both sides of the road have dealt with limited access to their homes.

Rachell Lewis is among those neighbors.

“Everything adds an extra 10 minutes to go anywhere,” she said. “It’s more time, more gas. It’s nonstop.”

Bus drivers taking her children to and from school also had to adjust.

“One (bus) goes to Stucky (Middle School), one goes to Isley (Traditional Magnet Elementary School),” Lewis said. “Their buses, I feel like this year, are later than they’ve ever been because they have to go through all this construction. They’re probably having to be strategic picking kids up and dropping them off.”

Beginning Thursday, Woodlawn traffic will shift to the new side, but crews have to tear up the other. So, traffic will still be down to one direction. In addition, 45th Street traffic will switch from westbound only to eastbound. This phase is expected to last about two months.

Barring any extended weather delays or supply issues, the City of Bel Aire says the Woodlawn expansion project should be finished either later this summer or fall.

Los Cunados is a restaurant at the corner of 45th and Woodlawn. Owner Hector Onate opened the doors months before construction began. Since that time, traffic has dipped.

“When the project started, business went down a lot,” he said.

While he’s managed to keep the restaurant going, Onate said longer road-construction delays could further cut into his bottom line.

“This is a small business. It’s hard,” he said.