Enhancing Traffic Safety and Capacity

US-54 and US-50 Passing Lane Projects

State of Kansas

Project Overview

GBA addressed significant transportation challenges for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) by redesigning and constructing new passing lanes on US-54 and US-50. This project added two new passing lane sections and extended three existing passing lane sections. Currently under construction, these projects are scheduled for completion by Fall 2024.

Project Objectives

This project aims to enhance safety and increase capacity on US-50 and US-54, mainly due to high truck volumes that restrict traffic flow. By transforming two-lane into four-lane sections, the new and extended passing lanes provide critical passing opportunities, significantly improving traffic and safety. GBA was the prime designer, leveraging extensive experience in roadway, traffic and drainage services. On US-54, GBA designed all three passing lane sections, while on US-50, GBA collaborated with JEO Consulting, who handled most of the design work as a sub-consultant.

Project Challenges and Solutions

One of the notable challenges of this project was the need to develop distinct Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) strategies and surfacing recommendations for each of the five project sections. Coordination with the Union Pacific Railroad was essential due to the railroad’s close proximity to the highway. This required careful planning and adaptation for drainage structure extensions, including 500 Series culverts with spans of 10 to 20 feet. The project also involved managing different pavement conditions and implementing various pavement designs, including asphalt layers, pavement resurfacing and a chip seal surface treatment.

Kansas Department of Transportation

Project Impact

The project improved traffic safety and capacity, reducing the need for risky passing maneuvers on two-lane sections. Despite its complexities, the project was managed efficiently and consistent staffing throughout the project streamlined communication with KDOT.

Lessons Learned

A key lesson from this project was the impact of working with a Project Manager Consultant (PMC). This approach added an extra communication layer and affected timelines for reviews and decisions.

Additional Passing Lane Design Projects

GBA’s expertise in designing passing lanes is further demonstrated in the upcoming US-169 projects. These projects involve evaluating potential passing lane locations over a 54-mile stretch, addressing right-of-way constraints and planning staggered passing lane alternatives. This continued work emphasizes GBA’s extensive knowledge and experience in roadway design, ensuring ongoing improvements in safety and capacity for Kansas highways.

US-169 Passing Lanes Projects

The US-169 Passing Lanes projects began as a study to determine and evaluate potential passing lane locations on a 54-mile stretch of US-169. The study included evaluations of existing culverts and bridges to recommend necessary repairs. The corridor faces constraints on right-of-way due to a railroad and a rail trail, leading to the development of conceptual layouts for staggered passing lane alternatives. Two segments of US-169 were selected as priority locations and approved for design:

    1. A set of passing lanes split between Allen and Anderson Counties.
    2. A set of passing lanes in Anderson County and shoulder widening from just south of Garnett to the Anderson/Franklin County line, covering over 12 miles.

GBA will begin design on these projects after the survey is completed in 2024.

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