K-268 bridge replacement completed; highway reopens to unrestricted traffic

A new box culvert bridge allows hikers, bikers and horse riders on the Flint Hills Nature Trail to travel under K-268 near Vassar. The bridge project was completed and K-268 was reopened to unrestricted traffic this morning.

As of 10:30 a.m. today, Friday, November 15, a new bridge on state Highway 268 is open, allowing unrestricted traffic to flow on the route that has been closed since Aug. 5. The new bridge, which crosses a rail-banked section of the former Missouri Pacific Railroad, is located just east of the state Highway 368 and K-268 intersection, approximately 4.77 miles east of the U.S. Highway 75 intersection.

Crews still have work beyond the shoulders on the K-268 bridge replacement project to wrap up the project. Little to no impacts to traffic are expected during the wrap up work that is scheduled to be completed by late November, weather permitting.

“Thank you for your patience during construction and we hope you enjoy your drive across the new bridge,” said Kimberly Qualls, Kansas Department of Transportation northeast Kansas public affairs manager.

The project included removal of the existing overpass bridge that crossed the rail-banked rail line, now the Flint Hills Nature Trail, and replacement with a rigid frame box structure to allow pedestrians, bicyclists and horse riders to travel under the highway. Ebert Construction Co., Wamego, is the primary contractor on the bridge replacement project, with a total contract cost of $855,529.

Upon commencement, the project created an obstacle for those traveling on the route, with a 14.5-mile detour via U.S. 75 to K-68 to K-268 through Lyndon and Quenemo.

Local businesses were also impacted during the construction project, and state Senator Anthony Hensley publicly stated this week that the project hurt the local economy, due in part to lack of advanced notification of the road closure. Hensley also said a KDOT representative, who recently met with local business owners, made insensitive comments about the closure’s effect on local residents.

“I … believe that KDOT owes those who have been affected an explanation as to why there may have been up to two weeks where no construction was being done at all as well as why a member of their staff would be insensitive to the fact that the livelihood of a number of individuals has been put in jeopardy,” Hensley said in a statement issued by his office Wednesday.

The Osage County commissioners also were requested to help relieve some of the problems caused by the highway closure, when local residents complained of dust and speeding vehicles on an unofficial detour route on township roads used by many drivers. The commissioners approved a resolution to set the speed limit at 35 mph on the route along Paulen Road, 245th Street and Ratner Road. The commissioners also requested that the state provide dust control on the route.

See Hensley’s full statement here.

 Photos thanks to Kansas Department of Transportation.

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