April deadline set for 169 rebuild
Darrin Petrowsky, local KDOT engineer, told commissioners Tuesday morning the second phase of U.S. 169’s rebuild, about 2.6 miles between Hawaii and Delaware roads east of Humboldt, should be completed in April.
“I don’t know if that will be April 1 or April 30, but the contractor has to have his batch plant in Arkansas in April,” Petrowsky said of the equipment needed to make concrete.
With the opening of the new section of highway from Iola to Humboldt, work began last week to hammer the highway on south. “They plan to start this week, maybe today (Tuesday) hauling broken pavement” to accommodate dirt work. Work will cease during the holidays, but will resume in early January, with weather determining what can be done, and when.
Altogether, 26 miles of U.S. 169, save a couple of short stretches, have been designated for reconstruction. Next up will be from the Humboldt-to-Chanute (old U.S. 169) road to Earlton, except for the 1.7 miles of four-lane along the west side of Chanute.
Petrowsky explained the 169 work was part of a grand plan conceived seven years ago and has been tweaked several times to fit available funding.
A local concern, mentioned by Commissioner Jerry Daniels, are needed repairs to the old highway, the unofficial detour during construction. Petrowsky said he could make no commitments, but that KDOT did provide funding for crushed rock when county roads served as a detour when U.S. 54 east of Yates Center was reconstructed over the railroad. The difference may be that that detour was sanctioned by KDOT.
Overlay of parts of the old highway may be in order during the first six months of 2019, Daniels said, given damage from heavy traffic, including many semi-trucks.
That is particularly evident on either side of the viaduct over the Southwind Trail two miles south of Iola.
IN OTHER NEWS, commissioners:
— On a motion by Commissioner Bill King, approved 3 percent cost-of-living raises for all employees and authorized merit raises of as much as 2 percent. They also discussed a new vacation policy, which will require employees to take at least one full week off rather than use vacation time in a hodgepodge manner.
— Reappointed Iola attorney Chuck Apt to provide guardian ad litem (for children) and adult misdemeanor representation. He will be paid $4,875 a month for guardian ad litem services, $3,950 a month for adult misdemeanor cases.
— Will have an old brick wall on the Iola Senior Center parking lot razed once Steve Norman, who owns the property and permits its public use, signs off.
— Learned that through a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Weather Service Silver Jackets project Allen County will receive, in January, 176 “Turn Around Don’t Drown” road signs to be erected on either side of many low-water bridges and other flood-prone areas.
— Will meet Dec. 28 for their final 2018 session.