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Roundabout opens today, dedication next week

Staff writer

It’s a celebration of safety.

State secretary of transportation Mike King and others will be in Marion County at 10 a.m. Dec. 30 to commemorate the opening of the roundabout on US-56/77 at K-150, which was to be opened for traffic today. The ceremony will take place on one of the “shoo-fly” wings of the roundabout.

Gene Winkler of Marion, an instrumental advocate for the roundabout phase talked to KDOT this week about organizing a ribbon-cutting.

“It was the No. 1 most dangerous intersection in the state of Kansas four years and one month ago when I started this deal,” he said. “That was right after the accident where that student from Missouri was killed out there.”

Sai Ramanadham of Warrensburg, Missouri, died in a two-car accident Nov. 16 at the intersection. Shortly thereafter, Winkler began collecting signatures for a petition to construct a roundabout.

“Gene did a great job of bringing the issue to the attention of those who can actually effect change, and it got done,” Marion Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said.

Winkler has worked for Marion EMS since 1972, he said, and had been called to accidents there many times.

“It’s not so much personal. Well, it is. It’s personal,” Winkler said, “but it’s going to save some lives. People think, ‘Well, we had another accident out there.’ But when you’re the one that had worked the accident, and seen the people that didn’t have to die, you don’t think that way.”

KDOT chief of public affairs Steve Swartz said the intersection receives traffic from many oversized-load trucks, which present a greater safety hazard than semi trailers. The roundabout, with the shoo-fly ramps beside it, should make the intersection safer.

“You just don’t see fatality crashes at a roundabout,” Swartz said.

The change came later than hoped, but is a welcome alternative to the dangers the intersection presented.

“Unfortunately we had too many traffic fatalities out there before it got done, but I think this will be the answer we’re looking for,” Heitschmidt said.

Winkler toured the completed roundabout Tuesday.

Last modified Dec. 24, 2015

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