Planning underway for K-7 improvements, work could begin by 2023
PITTSBURG, Kan. — Highway K-7, particularly the section of it north of Girard where there is no shoulder, and which has seen numerous semi rollover accidents in recent months and years, has long been a headache for Crawford County officials that they’ve hoped the state could help remedy. On Friday, they got some good news.
County Commissioner Bruce Blair reported to his fellow commissioners Friday on a Kansas Department of Transportation meeting he attended earlier in the week about plans for improvements to K-7 — a project that is going to be “a lot bigger than I thought it was,” he said.
“So it’s going to be a resurfacing project for the entire stretch,” Blair said. “It’s going to be shoulders for the entire stretch — Crawford and Bourbon [counties] combined as one project.”
KDOT first approached the county about potential improvements to K-7 about two years ago, Blair said. He said he believes the current plan is to build a 6-foot shoulder on the highway on the furthest north section of it in Crawford County all the way up to the Bourbon County line.
“And some of the reconstruction they’re going to look at not only drainage, but they’re going to look at, you know, taking some of the hills off, filling some of the low spots, so you don’t have the old [Highway] 69 look going on there,” he said.
“It’s going to be a huge improvement. The downside is it probably will take some time,” Blair added, although KDOT is “progressing pretty quick,” he said.
“I mean as soon as 2023, I think we’ll see progress starting,” Blair said, “so it was actually the best KDOT meeting I’ve been to.”
Other officials at the meeting also commented on the plans to improve K-7, saying it was good to hear that KDOT is moving to address the problems with the road.
“That project is certainly needed,” said Commissioner Tom Moody. “We’ve seen numerous semi accidents.”
Sheriff Danny Smith, meanwhile, said that the additional improvements Blair mentioned beyond just adding a shoulder to the highway will also help significantly to make the road safer.
“I think you’ll see a huge decrease in the incidents we have up there, and those hills in the winter, that black ice, I mean it’s terrible up there” Smith said. “When we get those accidents up there, trying to, you know, block traffic and try to keep that safe is a nightmare, so it would definitely be appreciated to have those improvements and enhancements up there.”
Blair also added that he appreciates that KDOT “kind of fast-tracked” the project. “Even though it’s a couple years, it’s a lot quicker than it typically takes,” he said.