? KDOT detour bringing heavy traffic through Marion.
Construction started June 24 to build a new roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 56, U.S. Highway 77 and Kansas Highway 150, east of Marion.
The $5.416 million project was awarded to Cornejo & Sons of Wichita and will have a 205-foot diameter concrete circle?similar to what was installed in Florence almost a decade ago.
City Administrator Roger Holder said the contractor is full on into construction having removed pavement sections of U.S. Highway 56 and starting to do all the backgrading and elevation changes to put the roundabout circle in.?
In order to construct the roundabout, the Kansas Department of Transportation officials said a short detour is in effect.
?Those wanting to go west on U.S. Highway 56 from the U.S. Highway 56/U.S. Highway 77 intersection will go south on U.S. Highway 77 to Kansas Highway 256 and then west to join US.Highway 56,? said David Greiser, KDOT?public affairs manager for north-central Kansas, which includes Marion County.
?Motorists coming from the west will use the same detour in reverse.?
With the detour affecting the city of Marion?s downtown area, Holter said certain modifications were made for public safety.
?It is obviously a heavier traffic load through town and some local actions the city did was to shut down the U-turn which used to be permitted on Main Street.?
?We also had to close off part of the parking places on Third Street to allow for those larger truck traffic to make their turns,? he said.
Along with harvest as well as the detour and all the semi traffic through town, Holter said, it was necessary to make some changes.
In addition, the city added a speed control sign across the street from Central Park to try to make those in the detour a little more aware of our speed limit and what has to occur, he said.
?Unfortunately (police officials) have had to issue 14 citations with the majority of them being 35 mph or more in a 20 mph zone,? he said.
Holter explained that doing 15 mph and sometimes 20 mph over the speed limit can create challenges.
The detour portion of the project is expected to be over before school starts.
Greiser said he would like to see the detour completed Aug. 21, depending on the weather.
Holter estimates that an additional 2,500 vehicles are traveling down the city?s Main Street with between 500 and 600 of those being trucks.
Holter also is grateful to his predecessor for having the forethought to involve the KLINK project on west side of town.
With the added traffic, Holter said he knows the accelerated wear and tear will be hard on the street; however the roundabout project came about because of a petition by Gene Winzler because of the number of recurring accidents.
As for the new roundabout, Greiser said this diamond-shaped structure will address the need for safety, moving traffic through the intersection and accommodating oversized loads passing through the state.
U.S. Highway 56 is a major east-west route for oversized loads, including 12- and 16-axle trucks, Greiser said.
?A roundabout there has been in the plans for a number of years now,? Greiser said. ?That intersection has been problematic. We put in giant stop signs, extra rumble strips, blinking beacons, and people are still running the stop sign and getting hit.?
The extra lanes would be marked as emergency lanes and legally open only to the super loads, Greiser said.
?To my knowledge, this is a new concept,? Greiser said. ?If it works as well as we expect it to, it?s something we may see coming up again in the future.?