Hays City Commission discusses bypass improvements

BY CORIE LYNN

Last Thursday, the Hays City Commission took an in-depth look at improvements to the I-70 and US-183 bypass interchange.

In a presentation to the commissioners, Jonathan Marburger of JEO Consulting Group explained that the improvement project began as a bridge replacement.

However, severe turn angles and high crash rates on the short ramps caused them to reconsider the nature of the project. In addition, this interchange will see an increase in traffic with the opening of the new truck plaza just off the highway.

“That’s where KDOT looked at this and said, ‘Well, we want to actually solve the issues and set it up for the long term,’” Marburger said. “But now it’s not really a bridge replacement project anymore. It’s more of a modernization project.”

This improvement project will now include interchange offset alignment and turn lanes at Frontier/Fairground Road.

According to Marburger, JEO Consulting Group has already completed the concept report and preliminary design for the project.

The next step will be to complete the local concept in October. During this time, communities across northwest Kansas will meet to pitch ideas to KDOT to determine the most important projects to fund.

“In order to move this project forward, that’s really going to be dependent on the outcome of that local consult meeting,” Marburger said.

As the local consult will be held online, Mayor Sandy Jacobs stated that the City Commission will attend virtually and has invited members of the country and other interested individuals to attend.

Marburger believes such a large group could help Hays’ case in the consult.

“I’ve seen when communities come together with a unified voice, it does seem to make a difference,” he said.

Following Marburger’s presentation, the Hays City Commission approved two resolutions for making findings towards Frontier Apartments rural housing incentive district and a moderate-income housing grant.

These resolutions will apply to a project remodeling the St. Joseph School building to hold 12 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Before the meeting concluded, Assistant City Manager Colin Bielser gave a progress report, which provided updates on local departments.

This report included the opening of the ARC Park, the implementation of repair projects around town, and the movement of the North Vine Corridor Project into its final phase.

Melissa Dixon of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau also spoke, presenting local events occurring throughout the month of October.

According to Dixon, locals and visitors can attend the 49th annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 1 and 2, the Haunted Hays Historic tours on Oct. 22, and various children’s Halloween events throughout the month.

The meeting came to a close, but the Hays City Commission will reconvene on Oct. 14.

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