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Roundabout construction to start soon at intersection

Circle and diamond design may be one of a kind

News editor

Today’s planned selection of a contractor to build a roundabout to improve safety of the US-56/77 and K-150 intersection east of Marion came too late for two Burdick residents who died Friday from injuries sustained in an accident there. Officials are hopeful the roundabout will avert similar tragedies.

“It’s still a bad situation,” Marion EMT Gene Winkler said. “I’m really glad that it’s coming.”

Winkler, who responded to Friday’s accident, gave the roundabout movement a push by circulating a petition that garnered about 500 signatures following a fatality accident there in 2011.

Engineering designs were completed in December, and once the winning bid is certified, the contractor can start preliminary work.

Construction should begin in earnest after June 8, when detours channeling traffic on US-56 and K-150 go into effect until mid-August, Joe Palic of the Marion office of Kansas Department of Transportation office said.

“We’re trying to miss Chingawassa Days and Art in the Park,” Palic said.

Traffic on US-77 will be slowed, but not detoured, by construction.

“You’ll always be able to go north and south through the intersection on US-77,” Palic said. “There’s some work on US-56 and K-150 that it didn’t make sense to build a temporary detour.

Traffic eastbound on US-56 will be routed through Marion on K-256, while westbound K-150 traffic will be diverted east of the roundabout to Florence and US-50.

Straight access roads laid out in the shape of a diamond will surround the roundabout, so detours can be lifted more than three months before major construction is scheduled to be completed Dec. 4.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been tried, so we’re curious about it,” Palic said. “Once those diamond roads are in place, the detours aren’t necessary any more. All the construction is inside those diamonds.”

Steve King, road design leader for KDOT, said he wasn’t aware of another roundabout in the country with the diamond design, which was created to let oversized and overweight loads through, a problem encountered with the Florence roundabout.

“This happens to be a route they routinely use, and we didn’t want the roundabout to be an obstacle,” King said. “We’ve even gotten a call from an oversize, overweight operator that was very concerned what we were doing, because he was avoiding the roundabout at Florence. He was pretty impressed and favorable.”

King said the access road entry points will be back from the roundabout, and special road striping will direct cars to use the roundabout, which will be quicker. King said KDOT wants to discourage drivers from using the access roads, which will be left open to handle large loads whenever they may pass through.

Another advantage of the access roads is that when the roundabout needs maintenance, traffic can be redirected and not impeded, King said.

Palic said that if the project goes according to schedule, the only items to complete after Dec. 4 should be some striping and seeding of right-of-ways.

Last modified April 23, 2015

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