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Limited access, one way traffic amid challenges with road construction in Bel Aire

BEL AIRE, Kan. (KWCH) – This is a project to expand a busy stretch of North Woodlawn from north Wichita to Bel Aire. But limited access to neighborhoods and one-way traffic are challenges that have led to frustrations for homeowners and businesses.

News spoke to people who live or work in the area near the Woodlawn stretch from 37th to 45th Streets and the City of Bel Aire on Wednesday about when the project could be completed.

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

Work began in November 2021. Crews are working to add a turn lane, improve drainage and add footpaths. However, neighbors on both sides of the street were dealing with limited access to their homes.

Rachell Lewis is among those neighbors.

“It all adds up to an extra 10 minutes to go anywhere,” she said. “It’s more time, more gas. It’s non-stop.

Bus drivers who took 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, it seems to me this year, are later than they’ve ever been because they have to go through all this construction. They probably have to be strategic about picking up the kids and letting them go.

Starting Thursday, Woodlawn traffic will move to the new side, but teams will have to tear apart the other. So, traffic will still be in one direction. Also, traffic on 45th Street will only pass from west to east. This phase should last about two months.

Barring any delays due to extended weather or supply issues, the City of Bel Aire says the Woodlawn expansion project is expected to be finished by late summer or in the fall.

Los Cunados is a restaurant on the corner of 45th and Woodlawn. Owner Hector Onate opened the doors months before construction began. Since then, the traffic has decreased.

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

Though he’s managed to keep the restaurant going, Onate said longer delays in road construction could further reduce his profits.

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

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