For those who like to zoom by slow-moving vehicles going up the hill on U.S. Highway 59 just outside of Pleasant Grove, your passing days are numbered.
Later this year, the Kansas Department of Transportation is expected to open up the brand new U.S. Highway 59, which will be a four-lane freeway between Lawrence and Ottawa. When they do, the existing U.S. 59 will be turned over to the county as a minor collector road.
Before the county takes control of the road, KDOT has agreed to fix bridges, repave roads and replace the guardrail. As part of that agreement, the county is asking KDOT to take away the southbound passing lane that allows vehicles to pass on the hill just as they are entering Pleasant Grove. That lane is about .6 mile long.
With the bulk of the traffic moving to the new U.S. 59, the passing lane wouldn’t be needed, and it’s not something typically found on a county roadway, said Keith Browning, director of public works.
“It will be more of a minor collector road. You won’t be able to go a few miles without coming to stop,” Browning said.
Plus, dropping from three to two lanes would make the road less expensive to maintain.
Every mile of roadway costs about $10,000 to $12,000 a year in upkeep.
At the County Commission meeting Wednesday night, Commissioner Nancy Thellman said she had heard from people who lived in the area who would like the passing lane to stay in place, mainly so cars could get around slow-moving ag machinery. As a compromise, Browning said KDOT and the county have discussed shifting the roadway to allow for a 6-foot-wide shoulder on either side, which would give plenty of room for ag machinery to move over to allow vehicles to pass.
KDOT expects to start work on the old U.S. Highway 59 next year.