Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2006

Interchange upgrade slated to start late this year

Work will close sections of 24-40 and 7 highways; $53.6 million project to be complete in 2 years

June 1, 2006

Plans for improvements to a highway interchange east of Basehor are moving along.

In fact, Joe Blubaugh, public affairs director for Kansas Department of Transportation, said the first phase of the project could begin late this year or early next year. Construction should be completed by December 2008.

Blubaugh spoke to about 30 area residents who gathered last Wednesday at a Basehor Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The $53.6 million highway improvement project will be in two phases. The first will include improvements to U.S. Highway 24-40 from 142nd Street to 118th Street. The second phase will be construction of a new Kansas Highway 7 interchange over U.S. 24-40.

The work is part of a $10.8 billion state comprehensive transportation program state lawmakers approved in 1999.

Blubaugh said bids will be let on Sept. 15.

With the exception of a few days at the start of construction when drainage structures are being worked on, one lane of lane of U.S. 24-40, and of K-7 will remain open in each direction during construction.

And Blubaugh said access will remain open to all properties along the roads during construction.

"It might be some modified-access points, but we'll make sure that all properties have access," Blubaugh said.

Also, taking place early in the construction will be construction of four main frontage roads. This work will include frontage roads on the north and south sides of U.S. 24-40 at 142nd Street.

"Those are the most important ones that we have because they serve so many different properties along there," Blubaugh said.

The other frontage roads planned are planned for:

  • K-7 south of the interchange near the Kansas Department of Transportation building.
  • Northeast of the interchange between Parallel Road and U.S. 24-40.

The first phase of construction -- which includes the frontage roads; work at the intersections of U.S. 24-20 and 130th and 126th streets; improvements to U.S. 24-40; and dirt work for the new ramps for the interchange -- is tentatively planned to be completed by the end of 2007.

But Blubaugh said the work at 130th and 126th is planned for completion by summer 2007 so as not to disrupt summer attendance at Verizon Wireless, the Renaissance Festival and the Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Once the interchange is completed, a stoplight system at the interchange, for traffic on U.S. 24-40, will control traffic.

Basically, Blubaugh said, it's a system in which signals will stop traffic for drivers making a left-hand turn to access interchange ramps. Otherwise, the green light remains on.

Blubaugh said the interchange roughly could be described as a half cloverleaf.

And, the construction includes installation of a permanent traffic signal on K-7 near Jeffries Farm and Home Center, south of U.S. 24-40.

Basehor Chamber of Commerce member Debbie Bonee asked about possible traffic bottlenecks during construction.

"We don't have a choice," Blubaugh said. "One lane in each direction feels better than shutting it (U.S. 24-40) down completely."

It would have saved money to have closed the road during construction.

"But we know there are property owners, especially business owners, that would suffer a great deal if you shut it down completely," Blubaugh said.

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