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Kellogg, Big Ditch among $1.1 billion in Kansas highway projects

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, at 7:53 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 3, 2013, at 7:05 a.m.

Two major projects to ease Wichita traffic flow — one expanding the Kellogg freeway to the east and the other connecting West 13th Street to I-235 over the Big Ditch — took another step toward eventual completion Wednesday.

The state announced scheduling and funding for more than 430 highway projects across the state totaling $1.1 billion and slated to start over the next two years.

The biggest highway project in Wichita will continue the Kellogg freeway another mile to the east, beyond Webb. The project, from Cypress east to Wiedemann, means through traffic on the Kellogg portion of U.S. 54 won’t have to stop at a light at Cypress, just west of the Kansas Turnpike entrance.

It also means highway motorists won’t have to stop at a traffic light at Webb, said Shawn Mellies, interim special projects engineer for the city of Wichita. The expansion will send through traffic under the Webb-Kellogg intersection.

The project is estimated to take five years to complete, with a completion date around the spring of 2019, Mellies said. The project announced Wednesday involves $67 million in funding.

Although the project is only about a mile long, it’s complicated because it involves the turnpike entrance and Webb Road, said Tom Hein, public affairs manager with the Kansas Department of Transportation in the Wichita metro area.

The project presents challenges because the two interchanges, the turnpike and Webb, are within a quarter of a mile of each other, Mellies said.

Having to keep traffic access open during construction adds to the project time, he said. The project is still in the design phase.

On the west-side project affecting I-235 and West 13th traffic, eastbound motorists will be able to get from 13th to southbound I-235. That project, which has a contract price of $37.26 million, is expected to be completed before the end of 2014, said Hein, the KDOT official. Construction will probably begin this winter if the weather cooperates, he said. The project has been awarded to Dondlinger & Sons Construction.

Crews will build two bridges, one going east and one going west, over the Big Ditch. Eastbound traffic on 13th will have access to southbound I-235. The project won’t affect 13th Street traffic on the east side of I-235. Motorists going north on I-235 will have a ramp to westbound 13th.

“The goal is to take a lot of heat off of the Zoo Boulevard interchange” with I-235, Hein said.

A few homes in the area, south of the Sedgwick County Zoo and south of 13th, have been bought to make way for the expansion.

A third major project announced by KDOT on Wednesday involves a $17.28 million project on I-135 to rebuild concrete pavement from around 37th Street North to the north side of Park City. Officials will seek bids on that project in January 2014.

In all the state announced plans to improve 1,600 miles of highway and to replace or repair 209 bridges and interchanges. Many of the projects have begun.

Other projects in the state include completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway in Douglas County and improvements to the junction of K-10 and I-35 and I-435 in Johnson County.

Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King said in a statement that the projects are a mix of expansion and preservation and that the work will “expand capacity on some of the state’s busiest corridors and spur economic development.”

According to KDOT, information on the projects is available at http://kdotapp.ksdot.org/TWorks/ or at www.ksdot.org under “Recent News Releases.”

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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