Coronavirus could impact road construction in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The coronavirus outbreak is forcing more people to work from home, which means less traffic on the roads.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is monitoring how the virus could impact the state highway system. The department said that so far, construction contractors haven’t had to stop work because of the virus, and it is reminding contractors to make sure job sites are cleaned and that workers are keeping their distance from each other when on the job.

The road workers that work for KDOT and are employed by the state are on standby, which means only urgent maintenance projects are taking place, such as critical bridge work or filling a damaging pothole.

Officials said contracted workers could take advantage the lack of cars on Kansas highways.

“We’re evaluating on a day to day basis, we’re modifying things as necessary,” said Jeanny Sharp, KDOT Communications Director. “Certainly as we look at the lower traffic counts particularly in the metropolitan areas, we’re reviewing the ability and the opportunity to possibly do more road work during this time because of those lower traffic counts.”

Construction could be completed faster because workdays can last longer without disrupting traffic and it would be possible to close more lanes at one time, but the department said that the health of workers and weather will play a role in how much work can be done in the coming weeks.

“If we have good weather, and we have staffing, and we have empty roads, then all of those things may be a confluence that would help us be able to get projects moving,” Sharp said.

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