Kansas says U.S. 69 paving is needed

07/30/2014 7:02 PM

07/30/2014 7:02 PM

The problem

Thomas Schmidt of Olathe noticed paving work being done on U.S. 69 — near 175th and 151st streets in Johnson County — but thought the surface was in pretty good shape already.

“It has the smell of federal highway dollars being available in a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario,” he said. “Since you have a much better sense of smell, would you please check this and find out if we are needlessly spending our tax dollars just because they are there?”

The answer

The Kansas Department of Transportation says U.S. 69 was originally surfaced with concrete south of Interstate 435. Concrete is quite expensive, so KDOT opted for the more economical asphalt overlay when repairs were needed in the early 1990s to extend the life of the road.

Heavy traffic volumes increased the need for upkeep, so about six years ago, KDOT began resurfacing the worst stretches every year. A few areas still need repaving.

“To the driver, the overall pavement may look fine at 60-65 mph,” said KDOT spokeswoman Kim Qualls. “However, what the driver can’t see are the issues going on below the pavement surface.”

Pavement quality also affects safety, Qualls said, so KDOT each year evaluates the pavement on every mile of the state highway system.

“This proactive planning is important due to many, many needs across the state with limited funding available,” Qualls said.

It’s sobering, but the old Dog has something in common with this highway. As handsome as he still is on the outside, his innards are feeling their age.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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