Kansas City Metro Logo


This spring (2016), the Kansas Department of Transportation is introducing the 'zipper merge' for the first time in Kansas on the U.S. 69 and 119th Street Interchange Bridge Repair Project in Overland Park (Johnson County).  

In Kansas, drivers are familiar with the standard 'early merge' method for traffic control through work zones. With the early merge method, when approaching a work zone, drivers believe it's best to merge as soon as possible into the open lane. But early merging forces traffic in the open lane to slow down considerably creating back ups in the open lane and frustrations for drivers.

Zipper Merge Video Link

What is a Zipper Merge?

When a lane is closed in a construction work zone, a 'zipper merge' occurs when drivers use both lanes of traffic up until reaching the defined merge area, where they then alternate turns in "zipper" fashion into the open lane. 

 When drivers see the “lane closed ahead” sign and traffic backing up, drivers should stay in their current lane up to the point of merge and then take turns with the other drivers to safely and smoothly merge into the remaining open lane. When traffic volumes are heavy and traffic is moving slow, it is much safer for motorists to remain in their current lane until the point where traffic can orderly take turns merging. Watch our short video to see how the zipper merge operates here

Congestion is a frustration shared by all drivers on our roadways. Drivers should be considerate and take turns merging, using both lanes, allowing merging space for the other drivers. Drivers sometimes straddle the center line trying to block a lane for oncoming traffic wishing to merge; this is illegal and drivers can be ticketed for this traffic violation. 


Early Merge Graphic 
Early Merge 

Zipper Merge Graphic
Zipper Merge

How will the zipper merge work on the U.S. 69 project?

In advance of the U.S. 69 project work zone, the zipper merge signage will be activated, when traffic queues are heaviest, generally during morning and evening rush hours. During slower times of the day or night, drivers will continue to utilize the early merge method following the work zone signage.

Drivers need to be observant. This is a dynamic system, which means that the message boards will tell drivers when to utilize the zipper merge through the work zone. The message boards will turn on when congestion is detected and traffic is slow, and will turn off when congestion lessens, but drivers still need to be cautious and use good judgement through this and every work zone. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, along with many other states including the Missouri Department of Transportation, utilize the zipper merge for traffic control through construction work zones. Here is a look at the Minnesota DOT's zipper merge video: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/zippermerge/


Zip the Urge to Merge Graphic