Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

$3.2 million Airport Road re-opens

 

August 14, 2013

Almota Rd

Gazette Editor

After four years of planning and two construction seasons, Airport Road opened for traffic late Friday after DeAtley crews finished three days of paving. The road was opened after “local traffic only” signs were removed late last Friday.

Speed limit on the road has been posted for 35 miles per hour while crews finish up work. The new surface has also been posted with “abrupt lane edge” warning signs to alert motorists of the edge of the pavement next to the shoulder.

Public Works Director Mark Storey said the speed restrictions on the road are expected to be lifted within two weeks. Field approaches, placement of gravel on the shoulders, signs and striping are among items on the project work list.

Asphalt paving went down on the road last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Friday’s opening preceded a heavy traffic weekend with the return of students to WSU. The road serves as a south Colfax bypass, between Highway 26 and Highway 195 on South Main Street. Its closure late last year meant traffic from the west side of the state continued into Colfax and rolled down Main Street.

The county decided to block off the road late last year after DeAtley crews had started construction. Drivers attempting to use the road through the construction zone were delaying work and increasing danger to workers. The original construction plan called for a temporary three-week closure, but county officials decided to shut off the road to all but local traffic. One of the violators in the work zone was reported to be traveling at 72 miles per hour.

Traffic between Highway 26 and the Almota Road was detoured via the Duncan Springs Road. Motorists were allowed to use the west end of the Airport Road to provide access to the McGregor Co. offices and the detour link at Duncan Springs.

DeAtley was the low bidder for the project at $2,599,431. Work started on the 3.1 mile road in the first week in October. Startup of the Airport Road project had been delayed for several months while the county resolved right-of-way acquisition problems.

The project was shut down for the winter months with work resuming in the spring.

Storey noted the overall cost of the project, including land acquisitions and design work, will be $3.2 million. Funding for the project was approved more than three years ago.

The road has been widened and grades have been reduced. Also, curve alignments have been improved at several locations. Grain storage tanks at the east end of the road were removed to allow the intersection with Almota Road to be squared to a 90-degree angle to improve visibility.

Overall width of the road has been increased by 10 feet on the average with the paved width 28 feet and the shoulders between two and three feet on each side.

Storey noted at one point the county had considered installing a bridge to span Rebel Flat Creek on the west end of the project. They later opted for installing culverts for the creek which goes under the road near the west end of the airport.

Also, the last curve on the west end of the road before the approach to Highway 26 has been re-aligned for improved safety.

 

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