One of the most visible landmarks at the intersection of Route 71 and Route 150 in metropolitan Kansas City, MO's fast-growing southeast quadrant is Gail's Harley-Davidson, recognized as one of the top Harley-Davidson dealerships in the nation. More than 80,000 vehicles drive past the dealership on Route 71 each day, while another 21,000 vehicles pass it while driving east or west on Route 150.
It came as no surprise, therefore, that delegates from the cities of Grandview, Kansas City and Lee's Summit, along with representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), chose the dealership's parking lot for a groundbreaking ceremony last September to launch two projects to improve Route 71 and to widen and reconstruct Route 150.
The two projects, representing a combined $47 million, include removal and replacement of the existing Route 71 bridges over Route 150, adding new bridges and pavements to carry existing access roads both east and west of Route 71 over Route 150, and widening approximately 2.7 miles of Route 150 from just east of Route 71 in Grandview to Lumpkins Fork Creek.
Both projects were awarded to Kansas City-based Clarkson Construction Co. Clarkson, a sixth generation heavy highway contractor, has constructed numerous dam and flood control projects; built a significant portion of the region's interstate highway system; paved miles of municipal, county and private streets; and provided site development for many commercial and residential sites.
Allan Ludiker, P.E., MoDOT project manager, says the bridges carrying Route 71 traffic over Route 150 are being replaced in phases, with the southbound being replaced first. Both north and southbound traffic have been diverted to the northbound lanes for the removal of the southbound bridge and reconstruction of the pavement each side of the bridge. Once that work is completed, the traffic will be shifted to the new bridge to allow for replacement of the northbound bridge and reconstruction of the adjacent pavement.
Ludiker says MoDOT designed the interchange as a single-point urban interchange, which allows traffic to move more quickly and smoothly by adding turn lanes and reducing adjacent traffic signals.
"A single-point urban interchange is an interchange that consists of a single signal at the ramp termini, to handle the traffic movements within the interchange," explains Ludiker. "This differs from a more typical diamond-type interchange where signals are located at each of the ramp termini."
Eight miles of Route 150 will eventually be widened from Route 71 to just west of Route 291 in Lee's Summit. Construction of the first phase is expected to be completed by late 2010.
Scott Eason, P.E., project engineer for Clarkson, explains that the terrain in the initial phase of the Route 150 project is challenging — a two-lane road with open ditches. Clarkson is lowering some hills in that stretch by up to 20 feet and filling adjoining valleys. Route 150 will be upgraded to an urban highway with a raised median and enclosed storm sewer system. The pavement will provide for two 11-foot-wide lanes in each direction and a 12.5-foot median. The project will also accommodate a future sidewalk and multi-use path along the corridor.
Although Phase 1 of the Route 150 project is adjoined by numerous commercial businesses, residential communities and individual homes, Eason is quick to point out that nearby residents and business owners have been highly supportive of the project and very cooperative.
"We've made a point of meeting with the residents and businesses adjoining the project, and have made certain that each of them will continue to have access to their property throughout the duration of construction," he says.
MoDOT authorities report that bids for Phase 2 of the Route 150 project, which will widen an additional 2.1 miles of Route 150 east of this project, will be taken this month. Completion of all of these projects will serve the growing population of both Jackson and Cass counties, as well as the thousands of motorcycle owners who attend concerts and free cookouts at Gail's Harley-Davidson each weekend.
Clarkson Construction also recently completed a 4-mile, $3.7-million pavement rehabilitation and overlay project of nearby Route D, a two-lane, north-south arterial that carries 11,000 vehicles daily.
MoDOT authorities report that Route D between Route 150 and Route 58 had deteriorated over the past three years to a point where reconstruction was necessary. Jeff Hardy, MoDOT project supervisor, says both the longitudinal and transverse joints had shown accelerated deterioration. The existing pavement was constructed in 1986.
"The Route D project was an alternate bid project with three pavement treatment options for the contractor to bid from," explains Hardy. "The options included a 5-inch unbonded concrete overlay with the existing joints being cleaned out and filled with asphalt or flowable fill; full and partial repair of the existing joints and overlay with 5-3/4-inch Superpave asphalt; or rubblize the existing pavement and overlay with 8 inches of Superpave asphalt. The option that was the most cost effective, as determined by the successful lowest bidder, was the 5-inch unbonded concrete overlay."
In order to expedite the project, sections of Route D were closed to all but local traffic during reconstruction. The entire project, including wider shoulders, northbound left-turn lanes and traffic signals, was completed within seven weeks. n
Editor's note: Jerry Schleicher is a writer based in Parkville, MO.