By Angie Baldelomar
Contractors working for the Kansas Department of Transportation started work Tuesday replacing an 80-year-old bridge on U.S. 83 in Oberlin – making it a little slower to get through town, or from one side to the other.
The project will replace a concrete box bridge about three-fourths of a mile south of the U.S. 36 intersection.
Lisa Mussman, department public affairs manager in Norton, said traffic will be reduced to one lane, with a 14-foot width restriction, through the construction site and controlled by stoplights.
In Oberlin, U.S. 83 will not be accessible from West Columbia and Mill streets, Mrs. Mussman said. People living in the area may have to find alternate routes to enter or cross U.S. 83.
Eric Oelschlager, the area engineer in Atwood who is supervising the project, said that closing Columbia’s access to U.S. 83 shouldn’t affect people’s ability to get to the Decatur County Hospital.
“We’ve made a good compromise with the hospital officials so as not to affect their services,” he said.
Ambulances won’t be able to get onto U.S. 83 using West Columbia, he said, but can use an alternate route.
Mr. Oelschlager said that they would place signs and start closing traffic on Tuesday, and that by Thursday, crews would be tearing apart half the old bridge.
The estimated completion date for the project is Nov. 1, he said, but he hopes they will be able to finish before that.
The department awarded the $1 million construction contract to Bridges Inc. of Newton under T-Works, a transportation program passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2010.
This story was published on the front page of The Oberlin Herald‘s print edition on July 6, 2016.