TOPEKA (KSNT) – A major road project is scheduled to take place in Topeka in three years. Construction on the Polk-Quincy Viaduct will lessen the curve on I-70 through downtown Topeka. But there is a lot of preparation that has to happen beforehand like tearing down certain buildings.
The state is in the process of acquiring 45 properties near the viaduct. One of them is Harvesters Food Distribution Center.
“It’s a little bittersweet, I mean we did invest money in this facility. We had envisioned that we would be here for longer-term than it probably will end up being,” said Sarah Biles, director of communications for Harvesters Community Food Network.
Other impacted buildings include Let’s Help, Topeka Foundry & Iron Works, and Ryder Truck Rental. Many properties affected are just north of where the current viaduct is.
The state department of transportation is in the early stages of getting properties appraised and making offers to buy them.
“Naturally those projects that are in the demolition phase, which is the initial phase are our priorities, to get those acquired and get the businesses relocated,” said Bill Haverkamp, bureau of right of way chief for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Appraisals will start going out in August and be finished by February. Demolitions should take place in 2023 and 2024.
“It will be quite a process,” Haverkamp said.
The new viaduct is being built because of its age and to lessen the curve that runs through downtown Topeka on I-70.
The construction will feature two structures instead of just one like now, which will take up more room. Ramps and frontage roads that run parallel to I-70 will also impact which buildings will need to be torn down.
“The alignment of the project is dependent on the geometry of the I-70 corridor coming to the viaduct and the geometry of I-70 departing the viaduct,” Haverkamp said.
For Harvesters, it will stay in the Topeka area, but the search for a new home is underway.
“One of the most attractive things for us for this location was that highway access and ability to get our trucks in and out, so we’ll have to be looking for that in a new location as we assess our needs over the next couple of years,” Biles said.
Along with the downtown construction, Southwest Topeka Boulevard to Southwest MacVicar Avenue will be expanded to six lanes from four. You can learn more about the whole project here.