Overpass signage sought



November 30, 2016 - 12:00 AM

Sean McReynolds, chief of Humboldt’s volunteer firefighters, thinks adding street-identification signs to overpasses on U.S. 169 would help make emergency response more efficient.
“We get a lot of accident and grass fire calls that just say they’re north or south of the Humboldt exit,” he told Allen County commissioners Tuesday. The concern: “There are three Humboldt exits.”
When a semi-transport slammed into a structure this summer at the intersection of Georgia Road and the highway, McReynolds said he was unsure which exit was closest to the site so he dispatched trucks and volunteers to all three. People reporting incidents in many cases aren’t sure of location, other than it is north or south of a Humboldt exit.
“The three are about six miles apart,” McReynolds said.
Commissioners were receptive to his argument, and mentioned the proposal to Wayne Gudmunson, Kansas Department of Transportation district engineer, who dropped by later for a chat.
“We’ll have to check” with KDOT officials in Topeka, he said. “There are regulations about hanging anything from a bridge (or overpass).”
Mitch Garner, director of Public Works, was asked to check on cost of signs that could be attached to the overpasses, including those that don’t have interchanges.
Gudmunson, accompanied by local engineer Darrin Petrowsky, told commissioners “not to hold your breath” waiting for KDOT to begin improvement work on U.S. 169 from Thayer north through Neosho County and into Allen to Minnesota Road.
Allen’s project bid letting is scheduled for 2017, Neosho’s for 2018,  but “they haven’t been approved for funding,” Petrowsky said.
Gudmunson said all other highway improvements in southeast Kansas had been delayed because of funding shortage, “but I don’t want to get into the politics about why,” he said.
The “why” has to do with KDOT funds being squeezed from its reserves in recent years by Gov. Sam Brownback in his efforts to shore up flagging state budgets.
Petrowsky also said the Georgia Road overpass east of Humboldt would not reopen until late December or early January. The deck portion of restoration work has yet to be poured, and when it is, curing of concrete will require about three weeks.
In other news, commissioners unanimously approved an AT&T request to extend fiber cable into the courthouse to accommodate occasional use in a room used by Kansas driver’s license personnel. While fiber cable will not be available elsewhere, having it in the courthouse could make it accessible.

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