Orange cones and construction crews are already in place on the U.S. 281 bridge just north of the Great Bend city limits as the Kansas Department of Transportation begins to replace the span, a project that could take until next spring.
Work has begun to replace the shoulders leading up the bridge from the north and south, said Berry McManaman, area engineer with the Great Bend KDOT office. “We are in the preparation stages now.”
During construction, the bridge will be limited to one lane with traffic through the work zone. McManaman said this means vehicles may have to drive on the shoulder and the existing surface would not have withstood the increased use.
Besides, he said, the new structure will be 44 feet wide whereas the current one is 24 feet wide. There will be two 12-foot traffic lanes with 10-foot shoulders on both sides.
This bridge replacement over a diversion channel is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2014, depending on the weather, McManaman said. During that time, traffic will be controlled by signals (that will be installed within the next couple of weeks) and drivers can expect delays.
There will be a 12-foot width restriction in the work zone, so vehicles with widths wider than 12 feet will need to use an alternate route.
One business, The Tee Box driving range, falls with the construction area. A temporary road will be built to allow access.
“We are still going to have traffic,” McManaman said. But, by doing one lane at a time, the project takes longer.
The lack of a good alternative route kept the department setting up a detour. Washington Street was considered, but the road may not have been able to hold up to the heavier load and it involved residential areas.
Another possibility is t use NE 10 Ave. (or North Frey Street) just north of the Club at StoneRidge. That stretch had been closed until Tuesday afternoon because the bridge there was being repaired.
King Construction Company Inc. from Hesston is the prime contractor for this $1,063,298 project, said Martin Miller, Hutchinson-based KDOT south central kansas public affairs manager. It is funded by T-WORKS, the transportation program passed by the Kansas Legislature in May 2010.
Because of the the bridge’s location, the City of Great Bend is not involved in the effort.
For more information about T-WORKS projects and funding visit the website, www.ksdot.org/tworks.
Highway construction project locations and road condition information can be viewed at the 511.ksdot.org website, or can also be accessed by telephone by dialing 511. Persons with questions about the road work or other KDOT projects can call South Central Kansas Public Affairs Manager Martin Miller, at 620-663-3361 or 1-877-550-5368 (Toll free).