Roundabouts: Ready, set, go

Margaret Allen
Smoky Hill construction worker Henry Cole, of Salina, was halfway through lunch break about noon Thursday on N. Vine Street, where the west frontage road is down to one northbound lane.

Work started this week on the $13.2 million roundabouts reconstruction of Vine Street.

Smoky Hill Construction, of Salina, set up traffic cones Monday on the west frontage road. Demolition started Tuesday, according to city of Hays project manager John Braun.

The frontage road is the first step in the two-year project, with four roundabouts its signature feature.

Construction of the 1,500 feet of pavement will take eight weeks, said Braun, speaking Tuesday morning at a press briefing at City Hall, 1507 Main.

Access to the four restaurants, two motels and gas station there is restricted now from two lanes going both directions to only one lane, moving northbound.

“We’ll be building the east half of the frontage road down,” Braun said. “And when they’re done with that, they’ll put the traffic back onto the new pavement, and build the west half of the frontage road.”

Two-lane access to Pheasant Run, Whiskey Creek, Days Inn, Arby’s, Econolodge, Freddy’s and 24/7 will resume after that.

During the frontage road construction, which runs from 32nd to 37th streets, traffic on four-lane Vine itself won’t be affected.

“There should be no traffic restrictions on main-line Vine Street until later in July or early August,” Braun said.

After completion in fall 2021, the project with its four roundabouts will eliminate many of Vine’s existing stoplights.

As US-183 highway, the North Vine Street Corridor project is officially that of the Kansas Department of Transportation. Construction over the course of the project will upgrade 3,400 feet of Vine, from south of 32nd Street to north of 41st Street.

Hays in 2019 won a $6 million Federal Highway Administration BUILD grant for the project and will sell bonds to raise the rest.

Besides the four roundabouts, which have been heavily criticized by some residents and welcomed by others, the project includes reconstructing the west frontage road, as well as new pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, storm sewer, water mains, signage, pavement markings, street lighting and pedestrian signals.