ERIE – Work is scheduled to begin March 10 on the first phase of reconstruction of US-169 at the 35th Street exit.
Kansas Department of Transportation engineer Wayne Gudmonson gave a slide presentation to Neosho County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon on the upcoming project, which will rebuild the two-lane highway from around Earlton north to the Allen County line.
The 13-mile project will be done in two phases divided into two and three parts. The first part will rebuild from 35th Street to the start of the four-lane, and the second part of the first phase will cover from 140th Road north to the 35th Street exit.
The four-lane section will be patched, and the second phase will continue from the K-39 interchange north. The first two parts of the second phase will work on the K-39 ramps and from the Plummer Avenue interchange north to the Humboldt-Chanute interchange on Elk Road. The final portion will reconstruct from the four-lane section to the Plummer interchange.
Gudmonson said the project was supposed to be let in October, but Monarch Cement Co. in Humboldt objected to a long highway closure.
The original official detour, using state and national highways, would have used US-75 west of US-169 between K-47 and K-39. That was before an Ash Grove Cement truck accident damaged a K-39 overpass west of Chanute.
“That changed the whole playing field,” Gudmonson said. “They took out a whole pier column.”
The new official detour uses US-59 east of US-169 between K-47 and K-39.
The contractor on the K-39 bridge project began moving equipment Monday and the goal is to reopen it April 16, but that is not required in the contract. Ash Grove will pay for the project.
By the second phase, after the bridge reopens, traffic will not need to go through Chanute. Gudmonson said Elk Road will be busier, but truck traffic will not be allowed.
The first phase is scheduled for 125 calendar days. The project between Plummer and Elk Road is scheduled for 180 calendar days, but there is an incentive to finish up to 30 days early. The whole project is planned to reopen Nov. 18, 2022.
Commissioners are anticipating that people will use alternative, unofficial detours during the project, and they approved 16 miles of dust abatement for $123,975 at Tuesday’s meeting.
Chanute City Commissioner Sam Budreau attended Gudmonson’s presentation, and Gudmonson will meet with the Chanute Commission Monday.
The commission also met with Jason Martinson of Apex, builder of the Neosho Ridge Wind project, to discuss repairs to roads in the project area.
Martinson said Jackson Road had been graded, although no rock was put down, and whe said some issues will need to be identified in the post-construction survey.
Commissioner Paul Westhoff said Harper and Jackson roads are bad, and work crews are using non-haul roads.
Martinson said 94 of the 139 wind-powered electric generators are running and two circuits are left. Westhoff said he has received reports that some of the wind turbines do not have lights, and Martinson said some do not because of maintenance, while others have working lights that may not be visible due to angle or sky conditions.
Before Martinson appeared, Westhoff sparred with Road and Bridge Director Mike Brown over wind project road inspector Mark Houser, who was not present. Westhoff requested Houser attend, but Brown said Houser had to drive his wife to a doctor’s appointment. Brown said Houser was not requested by the commission as a whole, and Westhoff said Brown had told Houser not to come.
“What am I supposed to do when I say these roads need fixed and they don’t do it?” Brown said.
“”Let’s shut them down,” Westhoff said.
Commissioner Nic Galemore said the county should not have given Apex control of the roads. He said the county should have made repairs and billed Apex.
Health Department Administrator Teresa Starr reported to commissioners about two plumbing breaks that flooded the Chanute office. She said she did not have a total damage cost yet, but appreciated the Road and Bridge Department’s help with moving furniture.
Starr also reported the number of COVID-19 cases have dropped significantly. The department reported 24 active cases Tuesday.
With last week’s mass vaccination clinic at the Chanute Recreation Center and a hospital event the following Friday, Starr said more than 1,600 shots were given. She said school employees and emergency personnel have been vaccinated and people under age 65 are receiving shots.
• Emergency Management Director Melanie Kent-Culp reported the county received a bill of $30,000 related to video streaming at the Chanute Judicial Center between July and December because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Commissioners approved vacation time for Starr, Brown and 911 Director Lori Nally, and approved a blasting agreement for the county rock quarry.
• Video of commission meetings are on the Neosho County Courthouse YouTube channel. The next meeting will be March 11, due to the Chanute schools’ spring break.