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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

KDOT offers update on U.S. 69 plans

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fort Scottians Mike Cheney, second from right, and Larry Shead, right, inspect a map detailing the specifics of the U.S. Highway 69 Upgradeable Expressway Project during an informational gathering on Tuesday night at Northeast High School in Arma.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
ARMA -- Kansas Department of Transportation officials were on hand Tuesday night at Northeast High School in Arma to answer questions and solicit both written and oral comments regarding the U.S. 69 Arma to Fort Scott project and the proposed Arma Connection project.

KDOT Road Design Leader James Dietzel said the evening was originally planned to generate information regarding the proposed Arma Connection, which would create a four-lane expressway connection around Arma that would tie into the Arma to Fort Scott project, but organizers also decided to take advantage of the opportunity to further educate people about the Arma to Fort Scott project.

"We've had some open houses for the Arma to Fort Scott piece," Dietzel said. "But we haven't really had much regarding the Arma Connection. But because of its vicinity to the Fort Scott to Arma project, we have information about those projects as well. We're trying to get people a little more educated and informed about what we are trying to do down here."

Dietzel said with that information, he hopes KDOT will gain more support for the projects.

Dietzel said the majority of questions asked Tuesday night involved any updates on the project and how the individual would be affected by it, such as changes in access to the highway.

More than 100 people turned out in the first half-hour of the two-hour event.

Fort Scottian Larry Shead, who travels about five miles along the area where the Fort Scott to Arma project is each day on his way to work at Fort Scott Community College, said he came to the gathering to see how his commute might be affected by the project.

Mike Cheney, also of Fort Scott, said he attended because he has been a member of the U.S. Highway 69 Association for about 20 years and wanted to make sure he was caught up on any revisions to the project's plans.

The $57 million project, of which more than $30 million will be spent on the five miles it spans in Bourbon County, is slated to begin construction in 2017 and will take an estimated two years to complete. The remainder of the total cost will be for the six miles in Crawford County.

The project includes a plan that would turn the existing Arma to Fort Scott highway into a four-lane upgradeable expressway, which means sufficient right-of-way will already have been purchased should KDOT decide to later turn the expressway into a freeway. The freeway concept would mean that access would only be allowed at interchanges, crossroads would either be closed or would be bridged above the freeway and motorists would only enter the freeway by on- and off-ramps.

Both the Arma Connection and Arma to Fort Scott projects are in their preliminary design stages, which is estimated to be completed by the summer of 2014. The Arma to Fort Scott project has already been funded through T-Works, a 10-year, $8 billion transportation program, but currently, only design costs for the Arma Connection have been funded.

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