Roundabout closure won’t happen possibly until June 24
With a detour set to possibly double traffic on Main St., Marion has challenged tradition by temporarily banning U-turns at 1st and Main Sts.
“It’s a hard habit to break and a pain,” Marion resident Kelley Schafers said.
Safety was the most important issue, city administrator Roger Holter said.
“With the increased traffic of out-of-town drivers who are not familiar with the local custom, we thought it was best to post that sign and prohibit that,” Holter said.
Drivers can turn onto 1st St. and take Santa Fe St. to 3rd St. to turn back onto Main, Police Chief Tyler Mermis said.
Joe Palic of the Kansas Department of Transportation office in Marion said prohibition of U-turns wasn’t his idea but was something he supported.
“When you’ve got double the amount of traffic, there’s definitely a higher potential for conflict when making a U-turn,” he said.
KDOT figures show 2,570 vehicles on average drive US-56 per day. The detour for construction of a roundabout will reroute that traffic onto Main St.
KDOT planned to start construction last week, but a conflict involving an AT&T wire forced the date to be pushed back. Palic said AT&T plans to fix the problem Tuesday, and while he is uncertain, his “best guess” for when the junction will close is June 24.
“The contractor’s being cautious,” Palic said. “He doesn’t want to close it down then have something happen with the schedule. The last thing we want to do is close a road and not be doing anything there.”
If AT&T doesn’t fix the problem Tuesday, Palic didn’t know when the roundabout would close.
“We haven’t gone down that road yet,” he said. “We haven’t asked.”
KDOT is still planning to finish construction by mid-August, before school resumes.
Mermis said police put up the no U-turn sign in advance.
“They informed us a couple of days ago that the roundabout was being delayed for now,” he said. “We went head and put that sign out so people can get used to it.”
Mermis said he had heard a few complaints about it, but most have just had questions. U-turns will be allowed once US-56 reopens, he said.
“I know it’s going to be an inconvenience to everybody for a little bit, but we’re just trying to look out for the safety of everybody else,” Mermis said.
The junction will remain passable for north-south traffic on US-77, but east and west traffic will be rerouted through Marion west of the roundabout and to US-50 at Florence for traffic to the east.
One source of traffic that Marion may lose will be students who drive up and down Main St. recreationally.
“We’ll have to go to Hillsboro to cruise,” recent Marion High School graduate Braden Fahey said.