Archive for Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Linwood bridge work leads to temporary K-32 detour

September 28, 2005

Traveling through the Linwood area may take a little more planning this week.

The bridge over Stranger Creek on the east edge of Linwood will be closed from Thursday through Sunday.

The bridge is on Kansas Highway 32, so traffic on connecting highways -- U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 7 -- will be rerouted. The bridge has been under construction, and for the past several months traffic has been reduced to one lane.

Joe Blubaugh, Kansas Department of Transportation spokesperson, said the state's posted detour, from U.S. 24-40 and K-32 near Lawrence, will take drivers through Tonganoxie on 24-40 east to Kansas Highway 7 and south back to K-32.

Drivers taking the detour will be traveling 27.2 miles, compared with the 19.3 miles they would travel normally, Blubaugh said.

But he said he thought area residents would quickly figure out ways to shorten the detour.

"I'm sure, the local folks will know exactly what they need to do to get around it," Blubaugh said.

Ken Johnson of BRB Contractors, Topeka, said this week's closure may inconvenience area drivers, but in the long run it will be worth it.

"We're pouring the bridge deck on the second half of that bridge," Johnson said Friday. "We're going to tie it in on the second piece and if you run traffic the whole time the concrete is setting up and gaining strength, it will damage the concrete, which nobody wants."

Johnson said he expects the new bridge to be completed by the end of October or the first of November.

The $3.4 million project will result in a bridge that's 18 feet wider than the old bridge, which has been torn down, Johnson said.

The bridge will have two 12-foot lanes and two 10-foot shoulders, Johnson said.

"There used to be just a foot outside the paving," Johnson said of the old bridge. "Now there will be a full 10 feet. That's good for everybody."

And, Johnson said, the new bridge is 120 feet longer than the old bridge.

"Stranger Creek's moved," Johnson said. "The channel to the west kept eating away at the bank, it was precariously close to the end of that bridge."

Several factors seemed to slow construction, Johnson said.

The first was that one lane was kept open to through traffic, which meant only half the bridge could be built at a time.

"You've got to do everything twice," Johnson said. "Different subcontractors, the paving, the bridge itself."

Frequent spring and summer rains stopped construction numerous days.

And then, Johnson said, there was the creek itself.

"Stranger Creek is not much of a creek," Johnson said. "It's more like a river. That thing is tougher than the river jobs we've done."

Johnson said the soft, silty material along the creek hampered work efforts.

"Our equipment gets stuck about half the time for this whole job," Johnson said.

To circumvent getting stuck, wooden crane mats were brought in to set equipment on. And when necessary, equipment was hauled in to pull other equipment out of the soft soil.

Johnson said the job was challenging.

"Some jobs are, and this one definitely was," Johnson said.

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