To answer Humboldt resident Larry Mendoza?s question, ?Why weren?t there any updates or maintenance on local two-lane roads before closing portions of 169?? the short answer is: Don?t know, but hindsight is 20-20.
When KDOT laid out a detour that followed U.S. 54 to Yates Center, south on U.S. 75 and then back to U.S. 169 on K-39 at the northwest edge of Chanute, adoption of the shorter, and unofficial, detour of 20 miles between Iola and Humboldt was predictable. Within days of U.S. 169 being closed, truckers and other motorists seized the opportunity to drive the much shorter route rather than close to 50 miles on the official detour.
The result? Mitch Garner, director of Public Works for Allen County, reports that traffic counts along the old Highway 169 have spiked 300 percent since construction began on U.S. 169, from 8,100 vehicles a week to nearly 23,000. Anyone who has driven on the old highway between Iola and Humboldt, and on south toward Chanute, is well aware of the consequences.