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$2.5M upgrade of 27th St. starts mid-March

Asphalt pavement will be replaced with concrete on the street that sees 10,000 vehicles a day.

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
Vehicles early Wednesday morning traveled busy 27th Street, where a $2.485 million upgrade will replace the asphalt pavement with more durable and long-lasting concrete, as well as some fireplugs, sidewalks and curb and gutter. Work starts mid-March.

It will take about eight months, but Hays by the end of November will have a new and improved 27th Street from Hall to Fort streets.

The project will upgrade 3,780 linear feet of one of the city’s busiest roads, said city of Hays public works director Jesse Rohr.

The $2.485 million reconstruction will remove and replace all the pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalks, curb ramps, intersections, alley entrances and driveways to meet federal handicap accessible requirements. It also calls for new pavement markings and storm water improvements on the south side of the VanDoren pond, and abandonment of an old 4-inch waterline on Walnut from 23rd to 27th streets.

A three-lane asphalt street through residential and some retail neighborhoods, 27th carries about 10,000 vehicles a day, according to the city.

“We do have a phased plan for the project,” Rohr said during discussion with the Hays City Commission at one of their regular meetings in January. “It will be done in two phases. We will be doing the north half of the street in one phase and the south half of the street in another phase.”

There will only be one-way traffic eastbound, while the north half is being constructed. Then it’ll be westbound while the south half is being constructed, he said.

Details will be outlined to the neighborhood and anyone else at a public open house the first week of March, he told the commissioners.

Asphalt to concrete

While the project won’t change anything as far as 27th’s size or elevations, it does include upgrading the pavement from asphalt to concrete, Rohr told The Hays Daily News.

“Concrete generally lasts 50-plus years with little to no maintenance, while asphalt requires regular maintenance and has a shorter lifespan,” Rohr said. “The upfront costs between concrete and asphalt are very similar so it makes more sense to construct with concrete.”

Rohr said the city the past several years has been constructing major arterial streets like 27th with concrete.

“Concrete has also become the local standard for many smaller and more localized streets, including many residential streets,” he said.

Work starts March 15

Paul-Wertenberger Construction Inc., of Hays, which did the major reconstruction of Allen Street in 2018, was the lowest of four bidders for the project.

Wertenberger’s bid of $2.376 million beat out Morgan Brothers Construction of LaCrosse, APAC-Kansas Inc. of Hays, and Smoky Hill Construction of Salina.

The contractor will start construction March 15, with completion expected Nov. 17, Rohr told the commissioners, who approved the bid at their Jan. 21 meeting. 

With engineering costs of about $109,000 for Kirkham Michael Engineers, the total project cost will run about $2.485 million.

That's about $560,000 under budget, Rohr said.

Traffic flow

There will be phased work at the Hall Street intersection as well. Rohr said that at one point the west leg of the intersection will be closed and there will be a detour around Augusta Lane from 27th to Hall Street.

There will be times, Rohr told the city commissioners, especially during construction of the south side, where residents won’t have Hall Street access, and instead will use the alley. The 60 homeowners were sent a letter in August to inform them of the project.

When homeowners attend the open house in March, city officials will look at the situation case-by-case for each property owner, he said.

During discussion at the commission meeting, Hays City Commissioner Ron Mellick suggested construction at the Hall and 27th streets intersection be done when traffic to and from Fort Hays State University is less.

“Might be good to get that done during the summer,” Mellick said.

City Commissioner Shaun Musil asked how it would work having construction on both Vine Street and 27th Street at the same time.

Rohr said the city specifically held off starting 27th Street construction until the Vine Street intersection with 32nd and 33rd streets was completed and opened.

“Opening that intersection should take any conflicts away,” Rohr said. “The 41st and Skyline and 37th connection will be open, providing additional access as well. So we’re not looking to have any issues.”