Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 1999

KTA chief optimistic about new interchange at County Road 1

November 24, 1999

Money drives the Kansas Turnpike Authority's decisions about new interchanges, and it appears the revenue potential for a new interchange on Leavenworth County Road 1 could be up to snuff.

Michael Johnston, president and chief executive officer of the KTA, said last week that he was surprised by revenue projections for an interchange on county road 1, about three miles south of Tonganoxie.

If the turnpike authority would move to construct a turnpike interchange on county road 1, Leavenworth County would be expected to improve roads leading to the turnpike.

Because the KTA is a private enterprise that is not funded with tax dollars, Johnston said the potential to make money is key.

"We don't have the luxury to build interchanges all along the turnpike," he told the Leavenworth Area Development Thursday during its annual meeting.

Last week, LAD's transportation committee recommended that Leavenworth County commissioners:

Support an application to the state from Lawrence and Douglas County for a new highway on the east side of Lawrence from Kansas Highway 10 to U.S. Highway 24-40 with a new bridge over the Kansas River and a new interchange on Interstate 70.

Request that the state widen U.S. Highway 24-40 to four lanes between Tonganoxie and U.S. Highway 59 north of Lawrence.

Construction projects will be the norm in this area along the turnpike and Interstate 70 during the next few years, creating traffic headaches for motorists.

Johnston said the turnpike authority is moving its east terminal seven miles west. That project will be complete in late 2000, he said.

"A good deal of that was precipitated by NASCAR," Johnston said, referring to the racetrack under construction 15 miles east of Tonganoxie on Parallel Road.

In addition, he said, the turnpike's intersection with Kansas Highway 7 will be reconfigured. That $5 million project still is in the design phase.

The Kansas Department of Transportation plans to add a sixth lane to Interstate 70, between 110th Street and Interstate 435. That project will narrow the highway to a single lane each way next year.

"It will be a total nightmare," Johnston said.

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