Most of the town of Greensburg, Kansas
was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado on May 4, 2007. Now,
Greensburg residents and officials are faced with the
challenge of rebuilding their town. Due to the extent
of the destruction to residences, businesses, and public
facilities such as schools, the hospital, and government
buildings, city officials realized the importance of
planning the rebuilding efforts.
One of the key elements in planning a new Greensburg is the location and design of a US-54 freeway in the Greensburg area. The ultimate vision for US-54 throughout southwest Kansas is a freeway; an interstate-like highway that allows access only at interchanges. The location of the future freeway affects how the community rebuilding plan is developed. As a result, Greensburg city officials approached KDOT about reconsidering a southern bypass recommended in the 2002 US-54/US-400 Location Design Concept Study.
The 2002 study recommended a bypass because any freeway through town would have displaced an unacceptable number of home and businesses. They asked KDOT to consider a new location for the road about midway between the current highway and the railroad tracks three blocks to the north. City officials and business leaders believe that a freeway through town, rather than one around it, may provide better visibility, access, and future benefits to the community.
KDOT is committed to helping Greensburg achieve its vision. KDOT is reconsidering the 2002 bypass concept and supports changing the concept to a different location if that is what Greensburg envisions.
In collaboration with city officials and community leaders, two new US-54 freeway concepts were created that address many of the concerns of Greensburg's leadership. Both concepts follow the same alignment parallel to the current US-54, midway between Ohio and Illinois streets. Each concept has one interchange - they differ in where the interchange is located and designed. There would also be an interchange at US-183, west of Greensburg.
Concept A uses a "split diamond" interchange for access to and from the future freeway. With this concept, access would be split between each side of town with eastbound traffic exiting the freeway only at Bay St. and entering the freeway at Olive St. Westbound traffic would exit the freeway only at Olive St. and enter the freeway at Bay St. Approximately 3,000 feet separate the access locations. The access locations would be connected by two-way roads in the vicinity of the current Ohio St. and the existing US-54 highway. All traffic that exits the freeway would have to travel one of these roads through town in order to re-enter the freeway. Access across the freeway would be provided via two-way traffic on Bay and Olive Streets only. Bay and Olive Streets would be substantially raised and would pass over both the railroad and freeway lanes which would be located near the existing ground level.
Roundabouts are proposed as a likely way to manage the five-legged intersections created when Bay and Olive Streets intersect with the existing US-54 highway and the freeway ramp on each side of town. These roundabouts would sit about five to six feet above the current ground level due to embankments needed for Bay and Olive Streets. The roundabouts would need to handle significant truck and agricultural vehicle traffic for ease of access to the grain elevators and local farm implement businesses.
Property impacts for Concept A would include acquisition of properties between the current Ohio and Illinois Streets along with any properties impacted by the embankments, pavement, or drainage associated with ramps, the elevated Bay or Olive Streets, and roundabouts. Development and property access would probably not be possible on either side of the elevated portions of Bay and Olive Streets and in the vicinity of the ramps and roundabouts.
Concept B uses an "urban diamond" interchange concept for access to and from the future freeway. With this concept, entering and exiting the freeway would be accomplished entirely at Main St. at least one block north of the existing US-54 highway. Drivers could get to Main St. from the freeway via one-way access roads in the vicinity of Ohio and Illinois Streets. Ohio St. would become one-way westbound only and Illinois St. would become one-way eastbound only. Access across the freeway would be provided via two-way traffic on Main and Olive Streets. Main and Olive Streets would be located at existing ground level with the freeway passing over the streets.
Railroad crossings would remain as they are today. Significant retaining walls would be necessary so the freeway could be elevated and still stay between Ohio and Illinois Streets, creating a look similar to that along freeways in parts of Wichita and Kansas City. A series of traffic signals may be necessary to manage traffic through the series of intersections on Main St. in the vicinity of the interchange. This series of intersections includes the railroad, Ohio St., Illinois St., existing US-54, and the grain elevator driveway.
Property impacts for Concept B would include acquisition of properties between the current Ohio and Illinois Streets along with any properties impacted by embankments, pavement or drainage associated with any parts of the freeway lanes outside the elevated section and with any widening of Main St. Development and property access would probably not be possible along portions of Ohio and Illinois streets and would be limited or not possible along Main St. between the railroad and the existing US-54 highway.