Officials: Delta bypass delayed 4-5 months

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Work continues on the Delta bypass project, which was originally scheduled to have been completed by May.



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Work continues on the Delta bypass project, which was originally scheduled to have been completed by May.

Even though construction is well underway, plenty of Delta residents still don’t think the new truck route will ever be completed.

That might be because the 1.6-mile bypass that has been in some sort of planning stage for more than 60 years recently inched past its completion date. The project that was expected to be completed by May, at the latest, is expected to be four to five months late. Completion now is expected by summer or fall.

The $26 million project also will cost more than Delta officials first thought, but a final price tag has not been identified.

“Somehow there’s a rumor out there that we’re not going to complete the project,” Delta Public Works Director Jim Hatheway said. “We are going to go over budget, but we still have reserves in capital funds. We’re trying to get the word out.”

Cold temperatures have caused a slowdown and the city is working on drafting contract extensions to the general contract with Hamon Contractors and engineering and consulting services with Stantec.

Work was stalled when the soil density around the former sugar beet factory was deemed not sturdy enough to build on. The city also is working with Union Pacific Railroad to obtain property rights to build the bypass, city officials said.

Confluence Drive will be a four-lane roadway that includes two completed viaducts, one over First Street and another over the railroad tracks. Some basic paving has been completed, but more will occur after the ground thaws out. The new route will divert traffic to the west of Delta’s Main Street, which is U.S. Highway 50.

Traffic from the north will travel around City Market and run parallel to a set of realigned railroad tracks, exiting near The Stockyard Restaurant on the south side of town.

For as long as he can remember, the issue of even whether to build the bypass has been residents’ top gripe, Mayor Ed Sisson said. As far as he can tell, residents are pretty evenly divided over whether it should have been built and they question the $26 million price tag.

“You can get a lot of contention both ways,” he said.

Some merchants on Delta’s Main Street have opposed the route, worried that it will draw motorists and tourists away from the cluster of businesses in the downtown core.

Delta city officials maintain the route was created not to completely bypass the city, like a reroute that was created for the town of Olathe.

They say the bypass will lure away truck traffic, which has become so noisy and prevalent that people have to shout through a conversation on the main drag.

According to city figures 1,260 trucks per day in 2006 traveled on U.S. Highway 50. By 2035, the city estimates, the downtown would see 900 trucks per day with a truck route and 2,250 trucks per day without one.

The new route also solves an issue of motorists being trapped in traffic waiting for any number of the dozen trains that lumber through the city every day on tracks that zigzag across city roads.

Others worry about emergency vehicles being trapped in traffic, waiting for a train to pass by.

In one spot in Delta, railroad tracks crossed a road, then crossed again a block later, Sisson said.

The reroute has eliminated that problem, he said.

“Will it do what it says it’s going to do? You have to wait and see,” Sisson said. “If it does what it’s claiming, it will be a good thing.”

For more information and updates on the project, visit the web page http://www.ConfluenceDrive.com.



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