A Parsons construction firm earned the bid to build a roundabout at the junction of U.S. 59 and U.S. 160 east of Altamont.

LaForge and Budd Construction Co. Inc. had its bid accepted at the July 17 letting in Topeka. The company’s bid was $3,083,218.92.

The goal of the single-lane roundabout is to improve safety at the intersection. Southbound and northbound vehicles stop now and east- and westbound vehicles do not.

A roundabout is a circular intersection in which traffic travels counterclockwise around a central island. The roundabout will eliminate head-on and right-angle crashes. Speeds through the roundabout will be lower, reducing the severity of crashes that may occur there. The design of the roundabout also accommodates large single-unit and semitrailer trucks, Kansas Department of Transportation officials have said.

KDOT initiated a study in 2015 to determine what changes could be made to improve safety at the intersection. The roundabout was a result of that study.

From 2000 to 2015, there had been 59 accidents at the U.S. 59 and U.S. 160 junction or near it. One fatality occurred during that time. Of the 59 accidents, 14 of them involved injuries to 27 people, according to KDOT statistics.

Priscilla Petersen, an area KDOT spokesperson, said LaForge and Budd tentatively will start the work after Labor Day. The project should be done in 115 working days, but delays from weather and other factors will play into how long that takes to accomplish.

A pre-construction meeting has yet to be scheduled. Generally discussed at these meetings are work days and detours, among other topics.

The plan is to have a shoo-fly, or a temporary road, on the south side of the intersection for east-west traffic and on the west side of U.S. 59 for north-south traffic.

Christina Schlatter, Altamont city administrator, said the city has already moved water, sewer and gas lines from the project area. The city has annexed land in the project area.

Another project awarded in July is improving the K-47 and Ozark Street intersection in Girard. Mission Construction Co. Inc., St. Paul, earned the contract worth $328,266.51.

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