Construction to Begin This Week on Highway 69 Expansion
Today marks the official start of the latest highway 69 expansion project. It’s something local legislators have been working on for years. The $20 million project will turn six miles of the highway into a 4 lane road, starting south of Fort Scott and ending at the Crawford County line.
Traveling on highway 69 as it is currently raises some concerns for drivers.
“Sometimes it can be very nerve wracking just because you can’t pass in a lot of areas there’s been a lot of wrecks on that road so I think everyone’s a little fearful of it,” says Elaine Hicks, a Fort Scott resident.
“There are quite a few accidents that happen out here, especially southbound with it being a 2 lane highway, a lot of people going around each other to pass and what have you,” says Ryan Blaton, a Bourbon County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Legislators have listened and for years worked to get funding to expand highway 69 to a 4 lane road.
“We see a lot of wrecks on it, some fatalities sadly, a four lane highway is going to improve safety,” says State Senator Jake LaTurner.
As crews put out signs warning drivers that workers will be out soon, a groundbreaking ceremony marks the official start of the project. Governor Sam Brownback was there, and says the expansion will not only improve safety conditions, but will encourage economic growth in the area. Most industrial businesses will not come to the area because there is not access to a 4 lane highway.
Some drivers say they’ll be more willing to make the trip back and forth because it will move much faster.
“It’s faster moving traffic, you’re not having to worry about the oncoming traffic of course and it will just be much simpler,” says Samantha Milburn of Arcadia.
The $20 million project is just the start Governor Brownback set a goal of having bids approved for the section of highway 69 stretching to Pittsburg by the time he leaves office.
An expansion all the way to Pittsburg would greatly benefit Pitt State, the only Board of Regents School in the state that is not serviced by a 4 lane road.
As for the current project, both lanes will be open during construction which is expected to be completed by November 2018.