In preparation for taking out the island and putting in a new turning lane in at accident-prone Broadway and Harrison, crews from Wheatland Electric will remove the light pole from the intersection today, said Mark Kercher, Wheatland’s area supervisor.
Starting at 8:30 this morning, the Great Bend Street Department will close Broadway eastbound from Monore to Harrison. Jackson Street will also be blocked so traffic cannot enter Broadway.
The steel pole which features dual arms and two lights will be dismantled and relocated to Broadway and Jackson, where there is currently only a single-armed light, Kercher said.
The job involving Wheatland bucket trucks will start at 9 a.m. and should only take one day, but “we don’t know what we will get into,” Kercher said. The bolts may be rusted and the pedestal may have deteriorated.
And, he said, any work depends on the weather.
“This is the last double-armed light we have left,” he said. Eventually, all the lights will be replaced with a newer style fixture.
The existing poles are the old-style eight-sided, fluted design, and are considered decorative, Kercher said. But, “they don’t make them anymore.” So, eventually, all the lights will be replaced with galvanized steel poles like those along 10th Street.
However, Kercher said, the intersection will not be left in the dark. There is one of the old lights shrouded in trees on the southwest corner. This will be supplanted with a new pole with a longer arm and some trees will be removed.
“This should make the intersection brighter,” Kercher said. If that doesn’t work, they will have to come up with another plan.
The next step, said Mike Crawford with the street department, will be the removal of the 142-foot Broadway island on the east side of the junction. “If everything goes right, we should be into taking it out towards the middle of next week.”
Again, he said, the eastbound lane of Broadway will be closed, this time from Jackson to Harrison. The street will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the project is completed, which should be about a week.
Crawford said the island will have to be excavated, concrete poured and the stripes painted. This work will be handled by city employees.
As it is now, Harrison has left-turn lanes on both sides of Broadway and there is a turn lane on Broadway on the west side of the intersection. After this is done, there will be on in all directions.
“I hate to see (the island) go,” said Charles Waknitz, who along with his wife Janice, live at Broadway and Harrison. But, if the change makes it safer, then it may be a good thing.
“I hope it works,” he said. “We’ll see. I have my doubts.” He thinks some new rules could have been made to alleviate the problems without any drastic action.
Waknitz and his wife took issue with the original plans to locate a wooden light pole in their yard facing Broadway to light the corner. That plan has been scrapped.
“I just feel they should make the intersection look attractive like it has for all these years,” he said.