Crews removing concrete bridge rail along Polk-Quincy Viaduct on I-70 in downtown Topeka

Midday in Kansas
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 11:06 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Crews on Friday morning were removing the concrete barrier wall along the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 along the Polk-Quincy Viaduct in downtown Topeka.

Kansas Department of Transportation officials said the walls just off the right -- or outside -- lanes of westbound I-70 were being cut, then lowered by machinery to a truck that was parked beneath the viaduct at 2nd and S. Kansas Avenue.

The work was being done on westbound I-70 above S. Kansas Avenue.

The barrier wall on eastbound I-70 above S. Kansas Avenue was to be removed next week.

After the concrete walls have been taken down, “temporary” concrete barriers will be placed in the same locations.

When completed, the work will allow S. Kansas Avenue to be reopened between 1st and 3rd streets.

Getting the new barriers in place on I-70 above S. Kansas Avenue is the top priority at this time, KDOT officials said.

“What I most appreciate is everyone’s patience,” said Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz, who met with reporters Friday morning in the 100 block of S. Kansas Avenue, which was closed to through-traffic because of ongoing work on the Polk-Quincy Viaduct. “I know that this is an inconvenience in terms of traffic and I appreciate everyone’s patience.”

After the concrete bridge railing is removed and new barriers installed, the next work will be to remove existing concrete walls on the right-hand side of eastbound I-70 between S. Kansas Avenue and S.E. Quincy to the east as well as S. Kansas Avenue and S.W. Jackson to the west.

Those streets, like S. Kansas Avenue, have been shut down for several weeks after a 60-foot section of concrete barrier wall tumbled off the right-hand side of westbound I-70 and fell into an empty parking lot near the northwest corner of 2nd and S. Kansas Avenue.

No injuries resulted, but KDOT opted to remove all the other concrete walls in the vicinity to ensure something similar didn’t occur.

Other bridges with similar design across Kansas also are being inspected for safety concerns of their outside walls.

The Polk-Quincy Viaduct on I-70 on the north edge of downtown Topeka is slated to be replaced in a major project starting in 2025.

In the meantime, bridge deck work continues on the Polk-Quincy Viaduct.

KDOT officials say the viaduct, which is down to one lane for both west- and eastbound traffic, is safe for vehicles.

KDOT officials added there are no plans at present to divert all truck traffic onto I-470, which travels around the south side of Topeka.

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