KDOT proposes new highway to replace state Highway 31 east of Osage City

Osage County residents and KDOT officials discuss the planned construction of a new highway to replace a seven mile stretch of K-31 east of Osage City, Thursday night at Osage City Schools lunchroom.

It will be at least five years before reconstruction of state Highway 31 between Osage City and U.S. Highway 75 will be completed, the Kansas Department of Transportation announced during a public open house held Thursday evening at Osage City. But the now proposed project differs significantly from that proposed when the project was included in T-WORKS, the transportation program passed by the Kansas Legislature in May 2010.

Prior to the Legislature’s passage of T-WORKS, local officials and KDOT had considered a plan to widen the right of way, the road surface and the shoulders of the existing section of K-31. As included in T-WORKS, the project was presented as rebuilding the existing highway and adding shoulders, flattening hills, improving safety and enhancing passing opportunities.

Although the project unveiled Thursday night will still accomplish the same goals, KDOT is now putting forth a plan that will construct an entire new roadway slightly south of the existing highway. According to an overlay map shown during Thursday’s meeting, at least two residences on the south side of the road are in the proposed right of way and will need to be removed for the highway construction. The map also showed that an old one-room schoolhouse east of Osage City will be bypassed by new right of way.

KDOT officials at the open house said the plan to construct a new roadway came about due to the desire to keep K-31 open to traffic during the project, which is expected to take a year to complete. The previous plan would have required that K-31 be closed to traffic during the duration of construction.

During planning regional transportation projects, the K-31 reconstruction was the only proposed modernization project ranked as one of the most important projects in the northeastern Kansas region. The project was selected to support economic growth in Osage County and to address increasing traffic and safety concerns.

As described in KDOT’s documents, the existing segment of K-31 is hilly with practically no shoulders, and also experiences flooding.

“These safety concerns are a major priority for local leaders in Osage County. By improving this portion of K-31 … traffic safety and potential for economic growth will be enhanced along this corridor,” KDOT reported in the documents.

Currently the road has 11-foot wide driving lanes and two-foot wide shoulders. The new highway will have 12-foot driving lanes and 10-foot shoulders.

According to KDOT, survey work on the project has been completed and geology investigation will begin this fall. Preliminary design is under way, and right of way acquisition is expected to begin in 2015. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017, with completion by fall of 2018. Information provided by KDOT indicates estimated construction cost will be $14 million, but total project cost is estimated at $16,350,000 for the seven-mile stretch of highway.

Also during Thursday’s open house, KDOT presented information about the roundabout to be constructed at the intersection of K-31 and U.S. 75, with construction expected to begin this fall.

The roundabout was planned in response to requests from residents of the surrounding communities for a safer intersection.

KDOT says the crash history at the intersection from January 2004 to August 2009 includes 24 crashes, including one fatality and 15 injury accidents. The roundabout is designed to address these safety concerns.

The transportation department also notes that U.S. 75 is a north-south corridor through Kansas for large trucks, including equipment such as turbines and blades for the wind energy industry, and the roundabout has been designed to accommodate such loads and standard load lengths up to 80 feet. It can also accommodate specialty carriers with rear steering at lengths of 195 feet or longer. The roundabout project will also include a new commuter parking lot on the southeast corner of the intersection that will be accessible from state Highway 268.

During the project, shoofly lanes will be constructed to allow highway traffic to bypass the construction. The project will be done in four phases and is scheduled to be completed by late fall of 2014. Total project cost is estimated at $4,059,000.

092013-roundabout

KDOT provided this engineers’ map of a roundabout that will replace the current intersection of U.S. 75 and K-31/K-268. Note that north is to the right on this map.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas