Archive for Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Highway intersection work slated in 2 years

November 8, 2000

Near and far, far and near, highway plans are everywhere.

In an area fueled by growth, there is one certainty: More people mean more vehicles and more vehicles mean more road congestion.

Kim Stich, Kansas Department of Transportation information specialist, said planned improvements at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 16 in Tonganoxie will include widening of pavement and shoulders, as well as new traffic signals.

"The state will fund 70 percent of this project and the city will fund 30 percent, depending on the size of the project and the cost," Stich said.

The state funds for works such as this are set aside annually to assist cities in funding geometric improvements on city streets where portions of two rural state highways connect, Stich said.

She added that the 70 percent paid by KDOT would cover up to $630,000 in construction costs.

"The city of Tonganoxie is responsible for paying for the design, acquiring the right of way, moving utilities and getting all the plans," Stich said.

If construction costs are more than $630,000, it will be the city's responsibility to fund the excess, she said.

Stich said the actual construction is still in the future, and bids are scheduled to be let in spring 2002.

State Avenue is still slated for a November reopening said Fred Backus, project engineer for the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County.

"Things have been slowing down quite a bit because of the wet weather," Backus said. "But we are working toward getting State Avenue open before Thanksgiving."

State Avenue was closed from 118th Street to Interstate 435 two years ago so the road could be curved around Kansas Speedway. The road curves about a half-mile to the north and then comes back down to meet the original alignment, Backus said.

Also scheduled to open by Thanksgiving are the westbound ramps onto Interstate 70 off Interstate 435.

"Weather permitting, we're looking at two to three weeks until the ramps open," Stich said.

Backus said this will help traffic flow in Wyandotte County, where the combination of State Avenue closing and the closed ramps off I-70 have led more drivers to take Parallel Parkway.

"It's more of an inconvenience to the people in the area," Backus said. "We have had a few more traffic accidents there's been some speeding and so forth, but it's been more of a nuisance type of problem than anything else."

When State Avenue and the turnpike ramps reopen, traffic most likely will calm down, Backus said.

"It will get more like it was prior to the start of construction," he added.

Next on the agenda is an $8.7 million interchange and 1/8-mile connection from Donahoo Road to Interstate 435 in Wyandotte County, Backus said.

"That was one of the projects that the Unified Government had submitted to KDOT for system enhancement during the year," Backus said. "But when the projects selected during the summer were announced, this was not one of them."

The next step was to submit this request to the federal government.

"Congressman Moore led the charge," Backus said.

The request has since been approved by Congress and signed by the president.

This new interchange will help the Piper area grow, Backus said.

"Currently, all the people in the Piper area, if they want to access 435, have to drop south to Leavenworth Road and it's been inconvenient," Backus said. "Hopefully, this will spur growth in that area."

The Kansas Turnpike Authority has just about completed changes in this area, said Lisa Callahan, public relations officer for KTA.

"The new eastern terminal toll plaza is going great," Callahan said. "Traffic is moving through smoothly and I think the change was fairly uneventful."

Dedicated KTAG lanes are now open at the month-old new eastern terminal, she added.

Meanwhile, the old eastern terminal and the Bonner Springs terminal have been taken down and road crews are preparing to overlay the road surfaces.

With these changes in place, traffic can move faster between the Kansas City area and Topeka.

"The construction zone is gone from between Lawrence and Topeka and we will not do any major roadway replacement next summer," Callahan said. "We thought maybe everybody needed a break."

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