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Commissioners approve agreement on I-235, 13th Street flyover

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, at 10:49 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, at 6:58 a.m.

— Sedgwick County commissioners approved an agreement Wednesday with the state and city of Wichita for a planned $50 million flyover connecting I-235 and 13th Street North.

The city is paying for the project, which required the county to sign off because part of the project is on county right-of-way.

Public works director David Spears said the Kansas Department of Transportation will manage construction of the interchange, and the city will pay for it.

Under the agreement, the county will consent to construction “in our road right-of-way and agree to maintain the ground-level improvements on 13th Street,” Spears told commissioners. The city has promised to annex the road later, and when that occurs, the city will be responsible for the improvements, he said.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the agreement. Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau voted against it, expressing concern about another project at I-235 and Kellogg.

“I have a problem supporting this because this is the project that Wichita decided to spend money on instead of 235 and Kellogg,” Ranzau said.

That forced the county to pony up $11.7 million for a local match on the I-235 and Kellogg project, he said. That interchange project received funding from the state’s T-WORKS program. The first phase, deemed the “Red Project,” will cost about $116 million, and construction is set to begin in about five years.

The city did agree to put up $78.6 million to get $98.4 million in state T-WORKS money to help fund two phases of Kellogg expansion on the east, from the Kansas Turnpike to K-96.

Ranzau also expressed concern about what he called the city’s “history of lagging” on annexing roads.

“I share these concerns,” Commissioner Karl Peterjohn said.

He said the I-235 and Kellogg project “diverted” $11.7 million of county money.

Commissioner Dave Unruh said the I-235 and Kellogg project was not what the commission was considering Wednesday and was not relevant to their decision.

“I think we should approve this request by the city of Wichita so they can go on with their project,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Skelton said discussing the I-235 and Kellogg project was a “red herring” and political wrangling.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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