By BECKY KISER
The first step in the $13.1 million North Vine Street Traffic Corridor Improvement Project in Hays starts Monday.
The contractor, Smoky Hill LLC, Salina, will begin reconstruction of the west frontage road between Whiskey Creek to just north of the 24/7 store, starting with the east side. Traffic will be reduced to one northbound lane.
The frontage road will be widened with a slight curve added at the south end.
An online preconstruction informational meeting was held Wednesday evening at Hays City Hall.
Outlining the nine-phase project was John Braun, city project manager. He was joined by Kevin Zimmer, Kansas Dept. of Transportation Area Engineer, Jon Halbgewachs, Kirkland Michael Engineers, Ellsworth, and Steve Bartholomew, Smoky Hill vice president.
Bartholomew is determined his team will "get in and get out just as quick as we can."
"We'll build it right and build it fast," but most importantly, "we'll build it safely," he said.
"We're going to be out in the middle of a busy street and we'd like to have everybody pay attention to the signage for traffic control," Bartholomew added, "and we'll be as safe as we possibly can."
Throughout the 17-month process, left turns will be restricted in the construction zones to reduce traffic backup; however, there will always access to all businesses, Bartholomew and Braun stressed.
Residents can sign up on the city's home page to be notified of the traffic changes as they occur.
Fact sheets will also be available on the website and in affected businesses about changing traffic flows during construction.
Once both lanes of the frontage road are built, work starts on the west half of the 32/33rd Streets traffic roundabout, followed by the east half of the roundabout. The 35th Street intersection pavement will also be widened at that time.
Finally, center islands will be constructed through the 32nd/33rd Streets roundabout.
Construction Season 1 includes four phases starting June 1 and concluding in August.
Throughout that time and into the winter season, off-site work will include extension of 37th Street west to Skyline and Skyline will be extended north to 41st Street.
Season 2 construction begins in March 2021 with four phases. Roundabouts will be built at 37th Street, I-70 exit ramps, and 41st and Mopar Drive.
"Similar to 32nd/33rd, the west half will be built first, the east half will be built, and then the centers as well," Braun said. "Work on the I-70 ramps will also be done at that time."
The traffic signals currently in place on Vine between 32nd and 41st Streets will replaced by the roundabouts.
KDOT is the pass-through agency between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the city of Hays for the project. Vine Street is also U.S. 183. KDOT will assist in disbursement of the $6 million federal BUILD grant the city received.
"At KDOT, we're excited to see this project kick off," Zimmer said. "Through the years there's been many iterations of this — what can we do with this intersection or that. Now it's finally coming to reality."
Zimmer has worked on city-owned projects through KDOT for more than 20 years. He knows the traveling public and businesses don't like torn up roads.
"But rest assured, we have put together a team between the city, KDOT, the consultant, and also Smoky Hill, that will work in a fashion that's going to be very safe and very efficient to try and minimized any of those discomforts," Zimmer said.
The project is scheduled for completion in Nov. 2021.