Traffic tie-ups expected with opening of Kansas Speedway
Just how much this week's opening of the Kansas Speedway will affect area traffic isn't clear. But local law enforcement officials believe residents of southern Leavenworth County will see an impact.
Sheriff Herb Nye is a man of few words when it comes to advising southern area residents about traveling on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"Leave early," Nye said. "If you have a doctor's appointment, don't expect to get there on time if you leave when you normally do."
The speedway's first race is Saturday. But practice and qualifying rounds will be conducted on Thursday and Friday, attracting thousands of people to the track, about 15 miles east of Tonganoxie on U.S. Highway 24-40.
"Plan on a lot of delays, anywhere east of Tonganoxie," Nye said.
It's most likely that the true traffic snarls will plague the area once track activities conclude each day, starting about 4 p.m.
"When the race is over and they are trying to get people off the grounds, I think you'll have a bottleneck at Tonganoxie, certainly," the sheriff said.
It's possible police or sheriff's officers will deactivate the traffic light in Tonganoxie and, instead, will direct traffic. Traffic problems likely will crop up at traffic light, where the highway narrows from four lanes to two lanes. Both the Tonganoxie police department and the sheriff's department will have extra officers on duty.
"This first weekend is going to be a test," said Tonganoxie Police Chief Ken Carpenter. "And then we'll adjust after that, if we need to. The only time I really see a problem next weekend is when the race is over. Now, they're thinking that will be around 4 or 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon and probably will last for four or five hours. Talking to people who have been to races in other parts of the country, they say it's quite likely to sit in the parking lot and not move for four or five hours."
Because U.S. Highway 24-40 between Kansas City and Lawrence likely will be difficult to cross, people wanting to head north or south across the highway should make alternative plans.
"They may want to use County Road 5 and go underneath 24-40," Carpenter said. "People may have trouble going north and south across 24-40. They may have to drive in a circle to do it, but it still may be quicker."
And the sheriff advises all area residents to use county roads, instead of 24-40 highway.
"I think that's one advantage that living in the area is going to have: You'll be able to move around a little easier," he said. "But crossing the main thoroughfares Highway 7 and U.S. 24-40 will still be a bear." the