A two-part project to improved county roads approved by the Barton County Commission Monday morning is a matter of safety, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. Commissioners OKed paying the county’s portion of upgrades to NW 50 Road and at the intersection of North Washington Avenue and North 30 Road.
“These are at two separate locations and are two separate things we’re doing to try to improve our roadways,” he said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation opened bids on July 21 for the project that includes making intersection safety improvements at the North Washington and North 30 Road intersection, the site of a fatality crash in 2018, and widening a concrete drainage box on NW 50 Road 0.1 mile east of NW 10 Avenue.
L & M Contractors Inc., Great Bend, submitted the low bid of $603,844. KDOT found the bid satisfactory and requested the county approve awarding the contract. Barton County is responsible for 10% of the construction costs in the amount of $61,000, McManaman said.
Both projects fall in KDOT’s High-risk Rural Road Program. Under this, the state, using federal money, covers 90% of the cost for such safety improvements.
At Washington and 30 road, the improvements will increase driver awareness of the North 30 Road stop and provide more warning, he said. These will include LED-lit stop signs, yellow radar-activated overhead flashing warning lights for north-bound Washington traffic and east-west-bound 30 Road traffic, wider rumble strips, and the moving of trees on the southeast corner of the intersection to give a better sight line for drivers.
This junction has been the scene of several serious crashes in recent years and the topic of much discussion.
Following the fatal crash that killed 18-year-old Shealee A. Stover on April 17, 2018, a number of changes were made at the corner. Then, on June 11, Francis Haberman, 91, was seriously injured when his pickup was struck by a trash truck.
“I asked for this project to be known as the Shaelee Stover project in house so that we keep that in the forefront of our minds,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. That crash put the intersection on the county’s radar, but more importantly it put it on the state’s radar.
“Without this 90% payment the state will make, there’s no way that we could have addressed that dangerous intersection in the way that it that it will be now,” she said. “And I just think that it’s really important for parents who have lost children that are not forgotten. And that was one reason that I wanted to do that.
And, “it makes me feel proud that something good can come from such a tragic situation,” she said.
After the Stover crash, changes included new, larger, 48-inch stop signs, larger “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signs and larger “Stop Ahead” signs, all with ultra-high grade reflectivity. The speed limit was also amended, extending the 45 mph zone a half mile north of the corner.
Additional rumble strips were also added on 30 Road.
In October 2019, at the request of KDOT, commissioners OKed a three-party design agreement that included KDOT, Barton County and TranSystems Corporation of Kansas City to handle the design. The work involved signing improvements at the intersection and North 30 Road as well as NW 50 Road east of NW 10 Avenue.
Barton County paid the design costs of around $77,000 to TransSystems and KDOT reimbursed the county 90% of the costs as well.
Those are the designs that are ready and being implemented.
At the concrete box location west of the county-owned memorial parks, 50 Road has a drop-off only two feet from the outside white line and close to the edge of the pavement. So, widening the box improves roadside safety by establishing a wider shoulder and moving the drop-offs at the ends of the box further from the driving lanes.
“We have a existing concrete drainage box with the edges of the box real close to the white lines,” he said. “We have a pretty good drop off there.” McManaman said.
So, this will expand that box allowing for wider shoulders there.
Both jobs should be completed by February 2022, he said. Neither Washington nor 30 Road will be closed during the process, but 50 Road will be shut down with a detour,