Detour shortcut proves rough on Douglas County roads

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Kan. - A two-mile stretch of road is leading to some detour drama west of Baldwin City, Kan.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is replacing three bridges on Highway 56 and the 30-mile detour has some drivers looking at shorter options.

"There's a lot of traffic coming by early in the morning and late at night," Kennith Whaley said.

He and his wife Wanda have live along 1400 Street, which has turned into an impromptu detour route for Highway 56 drivers.

"I figured it would happen. The state -- I don't think they were ready for it to happen this way," Whaley said.

The gravel roads are designed to handle no more than 200 cars per day, but they are seeing much more traffic now.

It's forced Douglas County to pay for new gravel, replace damaged culverts and lay down dust-free gravel in front of homes.

Douglas County Public Works director Keith Browning said KDOT has verbally agreed to reimburse the county for the expenses.

"When you have a lot of traffic on the road and people are trying to get around a road closure, they tend to speed up some," Browning said.

Wednesday afternoon, Douglas County Commissioners approved installation of 30-mile-per-hour speed limit signs and banned all commercial grade trucks that are just passing through.

Whaley hopes it will bring back his peace and quiet.

"Get the road up to where it can handle this amount of traffic," he said.

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