ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Kansas Department of Transportation office at Marion is slated to become one of the busiest in Kansas for the next two years with hundreds of millions of dollars in highway construction planned.
Perhaps the largest project, believed to end up costing in the tens of millions of dollars, will be the reconstruction of K-150 for 17 miles across the Flint Hills from U.S. Highway 56 at Marion to U.S. Highway 50 south of Elmdale.
Work will begin on K-150 in June with closing of the highway sometime in August-September, said Brice Goebel, KDOT construction engineer at Marion. It will be closed for two years, he said.
Goebel doesn’t want to put final figures to this or any other projects planned because the construction will be massive, and may run into many unknown factors, particularly on K-150.
“We will take down the hills, and fill in the valleys,” he said. “We will widen it. We will rebuild the structures. It will be a new road.”
Other than this, most projects will be new alignments of highways or repairs that may slow through traffic with flagmen or minor detours, but not halt it, he said.
Probably the only exception is K-256 from the old highway to U.S. 56 west of Marion which is closed while a KDOT crew puts a new full deck on the bridge.
Goebel said when the bridge was closed in November, it was thought the existing 25-year-old structure would be patched. “Then the scope changed dramatically,” he said.
Goebel explained that salt corrosion of the rebar and expansion from rust and deterioration was worse than anticipated. It became a choice between a patch job that would last 10 to 15 years or a new deck that would last 50 to 60 years, he said.
“Hopefully it will be completed in the next two months,” he said.
A new highway alignment this summer-that may also require some realignment of the community of Lincolnville-will be the rebuilding of U.S. Highway 56 and K-77 from Lincolnville to the Marion-Dickinson County line.
Goebel said the alignment will offset the highway about 100 feet. Traffic will remain on the old highway until the new section is done, then rerouted on the new section while the old one is demolished, he said.
Goebel said the highway will be upgraded to conform with new construction that has already been done further north with widening and a change from asphalt surface to concrete.
He acknowledged the highway construction may change business locations at Lincolnville, including closure of the gasoline station on the highway.
The city of Lincolnville is investigating securing a new convenience store for the community.
In other projects, Goebel said two new overlays will be done on K-15 south of the U.S. 56 junction that will only require temporary slow-downs of traffic. He said a new alignment on K-77 south of Florence also will only slow traffic.
KDOT will begin a project, probably in May, depending on the weather, on U.S. 56 from Hillsboro east to the K-77 junction.
Goebel said resealing joints and grinding the highway surface smoother will take two to three months. Similar work is being done on U.S. Highway 50 east of Florence.
When all this work is done two to three years from now, Goebel said, it will be time to rebuild the bridge on K-15 at Durham.