Penokee bridge project opens early to travelers

Special to The Hays Daily News

A bridge replacement project that began Feb. 27 in Penokee opened to normal traffic last week, approximately seven months ahead of schedule.

Construction work to replace a bridge over the South Fork of the Solomon River located along Kansas Highway 84, a half-mile north of Penokee, closed the bridge to traffic May 3.

"The contract specifies that the bridge didn't have to open until June 2013," reported KDOT District Construction Engineer Travis Scott. "Due to good weather days and great collaboration between the contractors and our field staff, this bridge project has made excellent progress."

The following phases of the bridge project have been completed. Contractors demolished the old bridge, which was built in 1957. Significant earthwork and installation of a temporary bridge and construction of a shoo-fly detour also took place this spring. The shoo-fly structure routed traffic around the east side of the new bridge construction.

The project has progressed to the third and final phase of construction. That includes the demolition of the shoo-fly detour and the temporary bridge. Workers also will perform erosion control, seeding and more earthwork operations as weather allows.

The speed limit, which was reduced to 30 mph through the shoo-fly and the construction zone, will return to the normal posted limit of 55 mph.

KDOT awarded the construction contract, totaling $1.9 million, to L&M Contractors Inc. of Great Bend.

Subcontractors on the project include B&H Paving, Scott City, asphalt seal; APAC-Kansas Inc. Shears Division, Hays, asphalt paving; Highway Signing Inc., Omaha, Neb., traffic control; Merz Brothers Construction Inc., Newkirk, Okla., erosion control and seeding; J&J Contractors Inc., Iola, rebar; Max Jantz Excavating, Montezuma, grading; Whitewing Construction Inc., Newton, guardrail; and Advance Land Surveying & Drafting, Hays, construction staking.

The bridge replacement project was funded by T-WORKS, the transportation program passed by the Kansas Legislature in May 2010.

For more information, contact Nick Rogers at (785) 625-9718 in Hays, or Kristen Brands, Northwest Kansas Public Affairs manager, at (785) 877-3315 or in Norton.