State announces interchange funding
With the state’s announcement that funding has been set aside for the first three phases of work on a new Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 7 interchange, Bonner Springs city officials are hopeful it will aid in future development.
The interchange will see $68 million in improvements, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced Friday, June 3. The project is one of nine road projects in northeast Kansas, estimated at about $1.8 billion, approved under the Kansas Department of Transportation program T-WORKS, passed by the 2010 Kansas Legislature.
The plan for the interchange eventually will add three large loops on the northwest, southwest and southeast and will take up 96 acres of undeveloped land, but it will protect the businesses in the Canaan Center development and the Kansas Transit Authority’s maintenance facility. The project has faced some opposition from residents and Bonner Springs City Council members in the past, but the council sent the state a letter of concurrence supporting the design in July of 2009.
“It’s probably as good a plan as we’re going to get, and it probably protects enough of our interests that it won’t be very detrimental to the city,” Mayor Clausie Smith said Monday. “It’s been a long time coming.”
That it has — Don Slone, planning director, remembers attending meetings concerning the interchange redesign when he first started with the city in 2004. He said getting the project started would be a good thing for the city in some ways.
“From an economic perspective, all the people working on it will be eating here and spending their money,” he said. “From the development side, it will open up the east side of K-7 south of I-70… from a planning perspective, knowing where it’s going to go will help us with future developments. They’ll see the type of road network available there.”
The total interchange project, which is 10 phases including single point urban interchanges at K-7 and Kansas Avenue and K-7 and 130th Street, is estimated at $300 million. The first three phases will take about two years to construct, Slone said.
The state had already identified funding for related improvements to the bridges over I-70 at Riverview, which is to be let for construction bids in December 2012, and 118th Street, which is to be let in December 2013. These improvements were Phases 2A and 2B of the interchange project.
According to James Picket, KDOT metro engineer, the additional funding covering Phase 1 will be let for construction bids in May 2013. This phase will construct two new interchange loop ramps, the southwest loop and the northeast loop.
Phase 3 includes some pavement improvements along I-70, but it has not been determined when it will be let for bid. Picket said it could be as late as December 2014, depending on when Phase 2 work will allow.
The final loop ramp on the southeast is part of Phase 4, which is not yet funded, Picket said. The first three phases will not affect the intersection of K-7 and Kansas Avenue.
Before construction can begin, the state must acquire much of the right of way for these loops. Picket said some right of way has been acquired already, including the two properties most closely adjacent on the south side of I-70. He said KDOT’s Bureau of Right of Way is in the process of appraisals and acquisition of the remaining properties within Phases 1, 2 and 3.
Though the loop designs will take up a big portion of developable land, Smith didn’t see it as a serious problem for the city and said the design was the best option.
“It still gives us access to Canaan Center, and that’s one thing we wanted,” he said.
The southwest loop will take up about 41 acres of land, though 50 acres will be acquired for construction. Picket said 9 acres can be sold as excess property after the project is constructed. The northwest loop will require 25 acres, and in Phase 4, the southeast loop will require about 30 acres.
Slone said the city’s main responsibility related to the future construction work is to relocate water and sewer lines near the Phase 2 work. The city council recently approved an engineering study to determine details for the relocations.
Brownback’s T-Works announcement, made at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., completed a four-day, five-city tour to announce the selection of major highway expansion and modernization projects.
More information about the interchange project can be found at k7andi70interchange.org.