Surely you can't have a bridge near Windmill Road without a windmill.
That's the idea behind including a windmill in the proposed aesthetic design for the Big Ditch bridge connecting I-235 to 13th Street in west Wichita.
A windmill, plus some clouds and birds, would be recessed into the north retaining wall along Windmill Road.
"It has relevance not only to Kansas but to Windmill Road," said John D'Angelo, the city's manager of arts and cultural services. "There's not a whole lot there, but the nature piece of it reflects the floodway. It's more of a traditional landscape approach."
Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to approve the aesthetic design for the $55 million project.
Unlike some of the artwork on retaining walls along Kellogg, where motorists whiz past without getting a chance to see it, city engineer Jim Armour said people should have a chance to see the windmill piece.
"Windmill Road provides the longest opportunity to view it," he said.
Windmill Road runs more than 1,000 feet before it curves into 13th Street. Windmill will run parallel to the bridge, giving a prolonged view of the artwork that will take up part of the 200-foot retaining wall.
The design calls for other retaining walls to have vertical lines, identical to those along Kellogg east of Oliver.
"It gives some verticalness to it," D'Angelo said, "which helps because the project is so horizontal."
He said there won't be an additional expense for the vertical lines because they are part of the standard patterns available for retaining walls.
As for the cost of the windmill artwork, D'Angelo said he didn't have a figure but that it's "pretty small."
The bridge itself will be 2,280 feet (just short of a half-mile), which will make it one of the longest in Kansas, Armour said.
Wichita is already home to the state's two longest bridges, both exits for the I-135 canal route onto Kellogg, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. The southbound exit is 12,497 feet; northbound is 12,111 feet.
Alan King, director of public works and utilities, said the project is slated to be finished by the end of 2013 or early 2014, but efforts are being made to move up that schedule.
The city is in the process of acquiring property. Work will begin in early 2012 to widen the intersection at Ridge Road and 13th Street so it will be ready for significant increase in traffic.
Realignment of Hoover Road to the east, from 11th to about 13th, could begin next summer. Now a gravel road, Hoover will be paved, Armour said.
I-235 currently exits in that area onto Zoo Boulevard, which has created traffic jams for years. About 39,000 cars drive on Zoo Boulevard each day.
The city widened Zoo under I-235 and expanded the bridge over the Big Ditch in the late 1990s, but traffic continued to snarl. Other plans to put a new bridge at 25th Street died out.
In 2009, the council agreed to build a bridge connecting I-235 to 13th.
"This will alleviate that congestion," Armour said.
And give motorists a windmill to view.