Dodge City, KS– The original plan to widen 3 miles of route 50 would completely wipe out the historic Point of Rocks. The formation was a beacon for early settlers of Kansas, but the 60 foot median threatened the landmark, so members of the Santa Fe Trail Association immediately fought to save it.
“It may be a pile of rocks to some people, but it means something to those of us that really love our western history,” said Bill Bunyan, the President of the Dodge City chapter of the Trail Association.
After months of discussion a compromise was made. KDOT has reduced the median to 16 feet. The compromise fits into the $69 million budget provided by T-works, and only cuts into a small piece of the Point of Rocks.
“What really convinced them, I think, was the nationwide petition to save the Point of Rocks where thousands of people signed it, as far away as Alaska and Hawaii,” said Bunyan.
Public Relations Manager for KDOT in Southwest Kansas Kirk Hutchinson said the compromise was a result of open dialogue. “That’s the whole point of the public involvement process, ‘Let’s have this conversation and let’s figure this thing out,’ and that’s what we did,” he said.
When it’s all finished the existing two lanes of route 50 will be the Eastbound lanes going into Dodge City. The Westbound lanes are what will interfere with the landmark. After removing some rock, engineers will build a retaining wall to help make up for structural integrity lost when they take away part of that rock. Even with losing some of the rock, the iconic sign will stay right where it is.
“We don’t have too many objects like this out here in Western Kansas, so we’re feeling pretty good about the situation,” said Bunyan.