Bonner Springs interchange work about to ramp up
So far during the construction of the new northwest and southwest ramps of Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 7, about 292,000 cubic yards of soil has been placed.
That’s equivalent to 58,976,416 gallons — enough to fill almost 90 Olympic-sized swimming pools. And it’s only half of the soil that will have been moved when the project is complete.
Interchange construction under way
The Kansas Department of Transportation plans a 10-phase overhaul of the Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 7 interchange, which includes the construction of interchanges at K-7 crossroads Kansas Avenue and 130th Street. However, the first three phases are the only ones funded.
Phase 1 (to be complete in the fall): Build the new southwest and northwest loop ramps for K-7 and I-70; install a traffic signal at K-7 and Speaker Road; remove overpass and existing I-70 ramps from the southeast quadrant of the existing interchange.
Phase 2A (complete in May): Realigning 122nd Street and Riverview Avenue intersection; rebuild the Riverview Avenue Bridge over I-70.
Phase 2B: Building a new 118th Street bridge over I-70 to replace the existing 118th Street under I-70.
Phase 3 (starting next year): Shift I-70 to the south and widen it to six lanes between K-7 and 110th Street.
As the temperatures rise, work on the new interchange ramps gets closer to completion and closer to affecting traffic. But the first few phases of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s overall 10-phase interchange project are on schedule for completion.
Construction has already impacted local traffic — last week and this week, 134th Street has been closed to through traffic as a bridge for the southwest ramps is constructed. But more daily commuters will be affected next month, when K-7 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Kansas Avenue and I-70 as work begins to build a temporary intersection at Speaker Road, where the entrance to Cottonwood Campground is currently.
That intersection will serve as the exit point for I-70 traffic and the entry point for K-7 traffic going to eastbound I-70. The lane reduction should begin about May 19, and traffic will be shifted left or right to accommodate the reconstruction of K-7 for the intersection.
Jim Pickett, Metro North engineer for KDOT, said that recent meetings regarding the schedule, officials haven’t found any reason to delay the lane closures at this time. The lane closures are estimated to remain for 90 consecutive days, he said.
Commuters already have been watching the work take place on the sides of the highways — including a large amount of construction machinery parked in the area of the new intersection. Currently the contractor, Clarkson Construction Company, has about six scrapers, two D8 Dozers, a motor grader, a water truck, a sheepsfoot roller, four articulating rock trucks and two cranes at the site.
Paul Gripka, a lead KDOT engineer for the project, said that not all of the 292,000 cubic yards of soil that have been placed on the site are new to the area. Overall in the project, about 143,000 cubic yards used will be on-site soil that is excavated and moved to different locations on the project.
“In addition there is about 440,000 cubic yards of contractor furnished material imported onto the project,” Gripka said. “This material is being moved from contractor-secured sites on the east side of K-7.”
There is still a significant amount of soil to be placed on all the ramps, Gripka said. The retaining wall along the ramp in the southwest quadrant is currently on hold while more fill dirt is being placed.
The number of workers completing these tasks varies from 15 to 20 currently, but Gripka said the number will increase substantially as the paving and bridgework progresses.
As for 134th Street, this week will not likely be the last time it will be closed to through traffic. Gripka said the contractor is allowed to close it during the ramp bridge construction for up to 45 working days, which do not need to be consecutive. It will have been closed for just eight days by the end of the week.
“So the traveling public should expect periodic closures throughout the project,” Gripka said, “but 134th Street will normally be open on the weekends.”
The first concrete base and pavement for the ramps is also scheduled to start in mid-May.
As for the new Riverview Avenue bridge and realignment of Riverview and 122nd Street — work that began more than a year ago — Gripka said the pavement has all been placed and the road south of the bridge has already been open to traffic.
“The bridge still needs a polymer overlay that cannot be done until the weather warms,” Gripka said. “We expect the bridge to be open by mid to late May.”