KSDOT Takes on $94M Widening Work of U.S. 69

Mon November 17, 2008 - Midwest Edition
Richard Miller




In April 2004, the Kansas Legislature committed additional funds to continue the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTP). The CTP was passed by the Kansas legislature and signed into law in 1999. Its intent was to provide $400 million in funding for upgrading Kansas highways.

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KSDOT) uses a Priority Formula to select highways for improvement. The formula uses a road’s characteristics, such as pavement structure, along with accident rates, and truck and traffic volumes. This formula is complemented with community involvement. The final result provides a priority list for all major projects.

Based on this process, KSDOT awarded three projects, one in 2006 and two in 2007, to Koss Construction Co. Inc. of Topeka, Kan., totaling $94 million.

The final goal is to expand U.S. 69 from the existing two-lane to a four-lane divided highway.

“The overall goal for these projects is to tie in U.S. 69 as a four-lane roadway from Kansas City to the Oklahoma border. These three projects currently will complete this four-lane roadway from Fort Scott to Kansas City,” said Brian Schafer, area construction engineer, KSDOT.

Fort Scott City Manager Richard Nienstedt said he’s excited to see U.S. 69 projects move forward to the construction stage.

“The continued improvement on U.S. 69 and the development of four lanes between Fort Scott and Kansas City will help ensure jobs, economic vitality and growth in the community of Fort Scott,” said Nienstedt. “We appreciate the continued commitment of the Legislature, governor and secretary of KDOT for supporting these very important projects for Fort Scott and Southeast Kansas.”

To date, eight projects have been let for U.S. 69 expansion from Louisburg, Kan., and the Linn-Bourbon County line. The expansion also will accommodate the forecasted annual average daily traffic of 8,900 for year 2026.

All three contracts include grading, new pavement and bridge construction. The three projects’ total length is 41.2 mi. (24.7 km).

According to Schafer, all three projects required substantial and various excavation. Koss had 1,902,676 cu. yd. (1,454,700 cu m) of common, 364,695 cu. yd. (278,600 cu m) of rock, 432,016 cu. yd. (330,300 cu m) of shale and 3,213,635 cu. yd. (2,457,000 cu m) of furnished excavation.

Schafer said that the right-of-way excavation was not used for fill material on two projects because the cuts and fills did not balance and it was more feasible to utilize contractor furnished material than to haul cut material from a longer distance.

Additionally, when completed, a total of 17 new bridges will be constructed. Bridge construction is being split among A.M. Cohron & Son Inc. in Atlantic, Iowa; King Construction Co. Inc. in Hesston, Kan.; United Contractors Inc. and Beachner Construction Company Inc., both in St. Paul, Kan.

“Most of the new highway goes off alignment from the existing roadway. Consequently, only one structure will be preserved and will receive patching and overlay,” Schafer said.

Schafer explained that the pavement base will be a 6-in. (15.2 cm) lime-treated sub-grade, along with a 6-in. cement treated base. New pavement will be a 10-in. (25.4 cm) concrete pavement with dowel reinforcement at the joints.

Portions of the existing two-lane pavement also are being replaced, Schafer said.

“After the newly constructed lanes are completed traffic will be switched to [a] newly constructed portion head-to-head while the existing lanes are reconstructed.

“When finished the new highway only allows interchanges to be points of access on and off the roadway. By doing this, it increases safety but continues to provide access to the adjacent land and frontage roads. Additionally, frontage roads will be constructed of asphalt or rock depending on their traffic volumes,” Schafer said.

Schafer stated that weather has been the biggest obstacle during construction.

“We’ve had weather issues that prevented us from hitting critical path dates. These items are handled as extra work and are tracked and paid to the contractor as extra work.”

“The majority of the grading has been completed, along with nearly all of the culvert extensions and drainage items. The critical items remaining on these projects are five bridges, the surfacing and crossovers to switch traffic, all of which are weather sensitive. It appears at this time the June 30, 2009, opening date will be met.” CEG