K-18 update: Interchange on Scenic to open Dec. 8

By Corene Brisendine

The Scenic Drive interchange on K-18 should be fully open by Dec. 8, a Kansas Department of Transportation official told local governmental leaders Monday.

Jerry Haug, KDOT area construction manager, said at an intergovernmental meeting that construction efforts are focused on four projects along the roadway, which is being re-done between Manhattan and Fort Riley. The heaviest concentration of work is the Scenic Drive and Miller Parkway interchanges. Haug said workers have finished paving Skyway Drive up to Scenic Drive, and are ready to tie Skyway Drive in to Scenic.

In addition to opening the Scenic Drive interchange Dec. 8, Haug said westbound K-18 all the way to Scenic Drive is also complete.

He said there have been ongoing issues with drivers making left-hand turns and U-turns in the middle of the construction zones in order to get to Scenic Drive and the airport. He said that even though there are only about two more weeks of construction before that section of the project is completed, he has asked for five more state troopers to patrol out of concern for public safety.

Riley County EMS Director Larry Couchman said he was also concerned about drivers making illegal U-turns in that portion of the construction zone.

“I have a concern at Murray Road and K-18,” Couchman said. “I’m just waiting for a big one right there.”

Another area of concern for Haug is Miller Parkway. The construction is suffering setbacks due to pedestrians and cyclists. Haug said the construction company spent an entire day grinding down pavement on one of the access ramps because someone walked a bicycle up the entire length of the ramp while the cement was still wet.

“If you are walking in concrete and your heels are sinking in, that’s a good sign you need to get off of it,” Haug said. “People should stay out of the area anyway because there are lots of things that they can get hurt on.”

Haug said last weekend someone rode a dirt bike up and down the wet cement on the ramp as well, creating more setbacks and costing the contractors money in having to remove the tracks in the pavement.

In the spring, Haug said they will complete the eastbound lane on K-18 between the airport and Scenic Drive.

Once that portion is complete, he said they will push back the changeover to half-way between Scenic Drive and Miller Parkway.

Haug said they anticipate opening up the rest of K-18 once the pavement is completed on the westbound side, but there might be minor sections shut down for the completion of two bridges. He said he would have to wait to see whether they can get the cranes in the limited space. If they can set up the cranes without endangering traffic, Haug said they would not have to close the highway. The project is scheduled to be complete by November 2013.

Wildcat Creek

Also during the intergovernmental meeting, Rich Jankovich, city commissioner, gave an update on the Wildcat Creek Working Group. He said they have finally written a draft of the Floodplain Management Plan. That plan has passed the working group and is being reviewed by the technical support side. He said they should get comments back sometime next week. At that point the group will work though those comments and make revisions as necessary.

Flint Hills Regional Council

Ty Warner, executive director of the Flint Hills Regional Council, said that organization is working to build the Flint Hills Welcome Center and to form an interagency partnership between Fort Riley and local businesses that would allow businesses to share in equipment and resources not currently available on the fort.

He said officials also are working on transit. Last month aTa Bus reported record ridership with 23,000 riders for October.

He said the council is also working on creating some small grant funding for the region.

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