Partial closure of Kimball Avenue raises traffic concerns amidst football season

Kimball Avenue will close to vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic from Denison Avenue to North Manhattan Avenue. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Starting Monday, Oct 18, 2021, Kimball Avenue will close to vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic from Denison Avenue to North Manhattan Avenue. However, the intersections of Manhattan Avenue and Denison will remain open.

City of Manhattan Public Information Officer Vivienne Uccello said the project is a total reconstruction of the street, storm drainage system and sidewalks.

Uccello said the area will be closed for at least 12 months.

“The contractor is estimating that August of next year they’ll be able to open one lane in each direction as they finish the rest of the project,” Uccello said.

Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers said there will be detour routes north to Marlatt Avenue and south to Claflin Road.

Uccello said the city also prepared for an increase in traffic near Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“The traffic that’s trying to enter or leave the stadium from the east side is advised to go up to Marlatt, and then take Denison or College Avenue down to access the stadium,” Uccello said. “Anticipating this particular closure was part of the reason that Marlatt was reconstructed when it was.”

Spencer Montag, sophomore in computer science, said traffic exiting the stadium is already “so bad,” and the detours might make it worse.

“I don’t think students will be affected as much as parents and people coming from out of Manhattan because that exit is the way they would take to get onto the highway,” Montag said. “All these detours is going to make it worse, and we’ll have standstill for an extra hour.”

The closure is a part of the North Corridor Campus Project. According to the Confluence website, the project focuses on “uniting the academic facilities and uses within the north campus area,” aiming to enhance “campus edges and public streets within this district.”

Uccello said part of the reason for the project was to create an infrastructure that allows the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, the $2.2 billion federal facility being built northwest of campus, all the access it needs.

Discussion of improvements started back in 2009 when the NBAF was first considering Manhattan as a potential location.

“We’ve been working on all of the different phases of the North Campus Corridor project for more than five years,” Uccello said. “We knew that some infrastructure changes would need to take place to make it possible for them to build here.”

The $4 million project — funded by an economic development grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation — is in phase ten.

Uccello said the city anticipates the completion of the project by 2026.