Construction on Kansas Highway 61 from McPherson to Hutchinson neared completion late last week as traffic was transitioned entirely to newly-finished lanes along the road.


Construction on Kansas Highway 61 from McPherson to Hutchinson neared completion late last week as traffic was transitioned entirely to newly-finished lanes along the road.
Vehicles were directed to new surfaces in Reno County on Friday, leaving only two sections limited to two lanes remaining. The first, a mile-long patch of road from the county line west to 4th Avenue, is not expected to cause any major disruptions in normal traffic.
The second, a mile-long stretch from 30th Avenue to 17th Avenue in Hutchinson, may cause light headaches for some drivers. Martin Miller, south central Kansas public affairs manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said traffic would be blocked from going east on 30th Avenue from K-61 while enhancements are made to the intersection. The area surrounding the closure, which extends to Apple Lane, has signs offering alternative routes for eastbound traffic.
“The city of Hutchinson has been a very good partner on the work we have been doing inside city limits,” Miller said. “They have done a good job of marking out routes for drivers.”
The contractions of traffic near the county line and 30th Avenue to two lanes are not expected to last long. Construction workers are currently tearing out the old lanes still in place along those portions of K-61 and will begin laying new roadbed soon.
“Those areas still need removed and rebuilt,” Miller said, “but the timeline is still for everything to be finished by the end of July.”
Construction on the K-61 upgrade, which completely replaced the highway from near McPherson to the heart of Hutchinson, first began in 2009. Partially funded by an $88.2 million boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the project has stayed to schedule throughout its duration, with construction accelerated by a warm, dry summer in 2011 that allowed rapid installation of roadbed.
McPherson County portions of the project were completed in November, and construction workers pushed to make progress on Reno County sections despite wet weather in early 2012.
“It was a little wet during the spring,” Miller said, “but other than that it’s been pretty good weather for quite awhile.”
Completion of the two remaining one-mile stretches of road in Reno County in July will largely wrap up the project. Miller said a pedestrian bridge that was removed at 30th Avenue across K-61 will be replaced in September or October, but no other significant construction will be necessary as part of the project.