CHETOPA, KS.--- Four Mile Creek Bridge on Highway 166 is still closed to traffic, more than two months after the projected open date. The Kansas Department of Transportation says there is no estimated finish date to get the bridge completed. With more people having to take detours to get around Cherokee County, it's starting to affect side roads as well. For one Chetopa resident, the opening of the bridge can't come soon enough. Since construction began on Four Mile Creek Bridge, Ronnie Johnson has seen more than the usual five or six cars on his road a day.
"They did a toll thing one day and it had 600 one day on this side of the highway, and it's about that many everyday," said Ronnie Johnson, Chetopa Resident.
He says with all the cars having to take the detour off of Highway 166, the conditions make it difficult to drive his tractor.
"The roads are terrible. Chokeholds in it, just can't hardly get up and down the road with equipment," said Johnson.
"We understand that there is an inconvenience for driving on the detour and having it be a closed road," said Chris Pross, Kansas Department of Transportation Engineering Associate.
Engineer Chris Pross says the November date to get the bridge completed was an estimate, and the current weather has slowed down the work.
"The ground is frozen. So we can't really do a whole lot of work, because if you were to compact something that''s frozen, it's not going to compact well," said Pross.
Pross says there is only about three or four weeks of work left on the bridge, but can't guarantee a day when it will be open for traffic.
"It's really kind of hard to judge what the end date is going to be, but we are working towards that and trying to get that as quickly as possible," said Pross.
Johnson says he will be happy once the bridge is officially open, whenever that day comes.
"It's an inconvenience for us to have to go around, around the dirt road when you are use to going down the highway. It's an inconvenience for us as well as everyone else," said Johnson.
The construction company contracted by KDOT to replace Four Mile Creek Bridge is B&B Bridge Company out of St. Paul, Kansas. The construction company could not be reached for comment, and it looks like drivers may have to continue taking detours for the foreseeable future.
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