Work on 1st roundabout starts with hourglass

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News

Actual work building the first of four roundabouts on Vine Street starts Wednesday, but traffic on four-lane Vine itself will remain fully open.

Two side streets that normally flow into Vine, however, will be closed to traffic, according to city of Hays project manager John Braun.

”The only thing that closes is access on to Vine Street from 32nd and 33rd streets,” said Braun Tuesday morning at an update on the $13.2 million reconstruction of Vine Street with roundabouts.

“There are still no restrictions on main line Vine Street until later on in July or August,” Braun said.

A phased project through 2021, the first roundabout will be at 32nd and 33rd streets. That one is the elongated hourglass, essentially a double-circle roundabout. Target date for it to open this fall is Nov. 20, Braun said at the press briefing in City Hall, 1507 Main.

Smoky Hill Construction, Salina, will start setting up traffic cones and other traffic control signs first thing Wednesday morning, he said.

“It will probably be the end of the day before it’s fully accomplished, the traffic control,” he said. “There’s quite a bit of signage and stuff, and barricades associated with that, so it will take most of the day to get all the traffic control set up.”

Once work is underway, 32nd will be reduced to one lane one way westbound from Vine to the alley behind Hays Chevrolet, 2917 Vine.

Similarly, 33rd Street will be reduced to one lane one way eastbound from Vine to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, 3302 Vine.

Access to all businesses remains intact, Braun said.

Motorists can get to 32nd and 33rd streets from Vine, but they will not be able to get to Vine from 32nd and 33rd streets, he said.

“If you live west of Vine street along 32nd street or somewhere in that area, and you normally access Vine Street from 32nd Street, you won’t be able to,” Braun said.

Those motorists will have to turn at Oak or some other street and access Vine from 27th Street.

Similarly, anyone coming from one of the retail businesses, like Orscheln Farm & Home, 2900 Broadway, on the east side of Vine, won’t be able to access Vine Street from 33rd Street.

“You will have to go down to 29th Street,” he said.

When work is completed in November, 32nd and 33rd streets will be open to Vine at that intersection, with its hourglass roundabout.

1st the splitters

Construction of the hourglass will start with building each side of the intersection, widening it out, and getting the splitter islands built, Braun said.

“As you approach a roundabout, they typically have what we call a splitter island, a raised median, that separates the direction of traffic, and directs vehicles to the correct orientation to enter the roundabout,” he said. “It also provides protection for pedestrian crossings at the approaches to the roundabout.”

Smoky Hill Construction will work from the outside in, building the periphery of the roundabout, then the center.

During that time, traffic will be switched from one side of the road to the other, each direction reduced to one lane and going head to head.

“That will probably be in the August timeframe when they’ll be switching the traffic over to one side of Vine Street, while they’re building,” Braun said. “While they’re building the west half of the roundabout, the traffic will be head-to-head on the east lanes of Vine Street. And then they’ll switch the traffic onto the new pavement, and go head-to-head when they build the east side of the roundabout.”

By the middle of August they’ll build the center of the roundabout. For that they’ll split the traffic lanes, one to the far right and one to the far left, and build the center.

Work on the hourglass roundabout starting Wednesday is the second step of phase one construction.

The first step started June 8 and will take eight weeks. That’s construction on the west frontage road, where traffic there remains reduced to one lane, northbound only.