MODOT announces dates for an expanded detour that will affect about 48-hundred drivers a day near Carthage. Eighteen percent of that traffic comes from semi trucks. Some business workers and residents say there's good and bad news coming from MODOT. The good news: Work to fix a major bridge will begin soon. But MODOT's announcement of work dates also includes another bridge project, also near Carthage.
Kyle Bridges can't wait for a bridge on Route 96 to reopen after repairs. A detour around the bridge routes traffic right in front of where Bridges works.
"All this traffic that's coming by, you've got to dodge as you're getting into your car or going to lunch," explains Bridges. "I mean, you've got to keep your eyes peeled. I don't know there's been an accident yet, but it's just a matter of time."
Time can have a way of going for or against you.
MODOT says the 96 bridge, built in 1934, is crumbling apart. It has been closed to all traffic since September.
"We thought that at the rate it was deteriorating, we needed to close it," says Sean Matlock, project manager at MODOT.
The quick deterioration rate also meant it was time to speed up the process of fixing the bridge.
"The original date that we were going to take bids was in February," says Matlock.
Bids come from contractors who want the project, and MODOT chooses the cheapest, but most cost-effective bid.
"We were able to move that up to December 16th," says Matlock.
Starting the project earlier means work could start near January 16th, and be completed in December of next year.
Bridges says, "I think everybody's initial reaction is, it's about time!"
But MODOT will use the construction time to also close and work on another bridge: The Spring River overflow bridge.
"The bridge deck. Sometimes there's, with the salt, there's deterioration of the beams and stuff," says Matlock.
The two bridges are only about a quarter of a mile away from each other. But a bigger detour will mean more travel time.
"I come from Mt. Vernon, so I come directly down this road (Route 96). I may have to come to the interstate and it may add 15 minutes to my commute both ways. So another half hour I'm driving every day," says Bridges.
MODOT workers say they're only waking advantage of an opportune time.
"We have more than 600 bridges in poor condition statewide. We, on the average, are able to only replace about 100 of those every year," says Matlock.
MODOT says by the time 100 bridges are replaced and repaired, work needs to be done on 100 more bridges that weren't on the list before.
The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $4.4 million: $2.4 million for the Route 96 bridge over railroad tracks, and $2 million for the Spring River overflow bridge. MODOT is offering incentives for the chosen contractor to finish both bridge projects ahead of the scheduled December 2017 completion date.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas