U.S. 54 will be rebuilt



January 9, 2013 - 12:00 AM

GAS — U.S. 54 from Iola to the east edge of LaHarpe, a distance of a little less than 5 miles, will undergo a complete rebuild.
Darrin Petrowsky, district engineer for the Kansas Department of Transportation, told Gas council members Tuesday evening the reconstruction would start later this year and continue into 2014.
“The project’s bid letting was scheduled for March 2014 but it has been pushed up to this March,” Petrowsky said, in a review of what KDOT has planned for this year.
“Originally, we had planned on a three-inch mill of U.S. 54 and bonded concrete overlay,” Petrowsky said. “Then, six months ago I got a call from Topeka, and was told the project was going to be a full-depth replacement with bid letting this March.”
The highway’s median will be untouched, but the four driving lanes, two in each direction, will be removed and rebuilt. That will entail taking up nine inches of reinforced concrete and four inches of aggregate base material. The subgrade also will be inspected and “some probably will be removed and replaced,” Petrowsky said. A stabilizing mat, similar in looks to orange snow fence, will be laid over the subgrade before the base is replaced.
The project will be done in three phases.
The first will be from east Iola to where curb and gutter begins in Gas; the second through Gas; the third on to the end of the four-lane at the east edge of LaHarpe. Some, but not all, curb and gutter will be replaced in Gas.
The contractor will decide whether to start at Iola or LaHarpe with the phased work.
The four-lane section of highway was constructed in the late 1960s and had its last major upgrade 11 years ago with mill and bonded concrete overlay.
Petrowsky said with two driving lanes in each direction he anticipated traffic flow would be maintained during construction.
Gas council members were asked to sign off on the project, although the city has no financial obligation. Petrowsky was asked whether sidewalks would be repaired. They aren’t part of the project, he responded.
Councilman Larry Robertson suggested that Steve Robb, Gas superintendent, “look at the sidewalks,” and recommend whether repairs should be made on the city’s dime, a local project that might fit well with the highway work.

IN OTHER business:
— Mayor Darrel Catron noted that curtailed hours at the Gas post office had been moved up, from March to a Jan. 25 start. The office will be open 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays and, as it has been, 8 to 8:45 a.m. on Saturdays.
— Council members approved an expenditure of not more than $500 to purchase candy for an Easter egg hunt at Fees Park on March 30, the day before Easter.
— They voted not to sell half a block the city owns next to City Hall to a neighbor. “I’d prefer not to sell it,” Catron said. “We don’t have a use now but if we ever were to expand (City Hall and an adjacent warehouse) that’s where it would go.”
— A proposal for an ordinance requiring insurance proceeds of probably 10 percent be set aside to ensure clean up or repair of property damaged by weather or fire was tabled.
— Robb said trash collection on Jan. 2 totaled 4 1/2 tons, with much of it having been accumulated from Christmas. That was the largest single-day collection since Gas took over trash pickup several years ago.
— City Clerk Rhonda Hill reported health insurance premiums paid to Blue Cross Blue Shield increased by 11 percent, $30.93, to $311.92 a month, with the new year. The city pays a single membership for employees.
— Agreed to continue investment of a $155,000 certificate of deposit at Citizens Bank, Iola, at .5 percent for the next 14 months, the best bid received. The money had been drawing .65 percent.