Dates have been set for a bridge replacement near Carl Junction, projected to affect more than 10,000 drivers a day. MODOT workers say the new bridge will offer new benefits. The current bridge has no shoulder. The new bridge will have a shoulder for bicyclists.
People are excited about the end product. But getting to that end product worries some city officials.
Caught between a rock and a hard place.
"It's going to be a mess," says Carl Junction City Manager Steve Lawver.
For Lawver, it's more like caught between a bridge built in the 1970's...
"MODOT has spent a lot of money just maintaining it," says Lawver.
...And a detour headache.
"There's a lot of truck traffic. Semi traffic," says Lawver.
11,000 vehicles a day travel on this part of Highway 171 and cross this bridge over Center Creek. 10 percent of those 11,000 vehicles are 18-wheelers. Seems this bridge has had enough of all the action and has been giving a heads-up to MODOT before calling it quits.
"Salt that you put on the bridge, it damages the bridge. It has just been deteriorating. Our maintenance crews have been out there a number of times to patch the bridge deck," says MODOT Project Manager Sean Matlock.
Detours will direct drivers by the Highway 171 roundabout (at Stone's Corner) northbound on Highway 43, then westbound on Highway 96. The whole detour is about seven miles.
But the secret is out on another, unofficial detour.
"All of your locals are going to know that going down JJ and cutting across Fir Road is going to be a quicker detour," says Lawver.
Fir Road is the last main intersection before Center Creek bridge. Lawver hopes all this extra detour traffic won't make Fir Road even more dangerous.
"Past four or five years, we've had at least 18 accidents that our police department has responded to," says Lawver.
Lawver says Carl Junction is working with the Village of Airport Drive to possibly widen Fir Road. But it certainly won't be done in time for the Center Creek bridge project, set to fully begin by May 30th and last until about October 1st, when traffic lanes will reopen.
"If people are patient with us and let us get in and get the work done, then we get this nice new bridge opened. People are really going to like what they have out there," says Matlock.
Lawver hopes his worries are proved wrong.
"We've really got to stress to the people that they need to slow down, watch your speed limits, and just be careful on it," says Lawver.
MODOT officials say they are doing what they can to ensure traffic lanes will be reopened by October 1st. The contractor will be fined $37,000 a day for each day past October 1st that traffic lanes aren't reopened.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas