The intersection of U.S. Highways 50 and 281 straight north of Pratt near St. John has long been considered dangerous, federal funds are now at work to rectify the situation.
New roadways are taking shape for safer driving at the U.S. 50 and U.S. 281 interchange south of St. John in Stafford County.
Construction crews are preparing two shoe-fly roads, one for south of U.S. 50 traffic and west of U.S. 281 traffic, so construction can take place in the intersection, said Scott Mullen, area engineer for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Dirt work has been going on for several weeks. Besides the roundabout, there will be four permanent 45 degree detours to handle oversize and wide capacity loads, some 22 feet wide, that would not be able to handle the shape of the roundabout. A lot of wind farm traffic goes through this intersection and the space is needed for towers and fan blades to clear the intersection.
A lot of oversize and overweight loads go through this intersection every year so these detours will help keep those trucks moving efficiently though the area.
“They can go around and not get hung up,” Mullen said.
Work on the shoe-flies and permanent detours is going on at the same time and progress is being made daily.
The soil on the northwest quadrant of the intersection is being treated with cement to help with compaction. A layer of asphalt will go over that before the final layer of concrete will complete the road surface, Mullen said.
“Concrete on top of the asphalt base will add more strength underneath the pavement,” Mullen said.
The base work should start this week while the first concrete should be ready to pour next week.
While rain has impacted the work area, for now, construction is pretty close to the proposed schedule.
This $5.2 million project is scheduled for completion in the late fall, depending on the weather, Mullen said.
Funds for this project come from the Federal Highway Administration that puts money into trust funds. Those funds can be used for projects especially where safety issues are involved. The intersection at 50 and 281 is dangerous and there have been several injury and fatal accidents at the intersection so the project qualified for FHA funds, Mullen said.