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City Council to consider adding $90,000 to K-96 interchange project

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, at 9:14 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 5:55 a.m.

Wichita City Council members are expected to again tweak the financing package for $9.5 million in improvements at the K-96 and Greenwich interchange, which developers say is critical to getting customers to sports and retail developments there.

The city plans to add $90,000 from its water mains replacement or relocation program; the City Council will consider the change during its meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

That would bring the city contribution to the intersection project to $3.59 million, including $1.5 million from a community improvement district established for Cabela’s and $2 million in city capital improvement money.

The existing interchange includes a westbound entrance ramp and an eastbound exit ramp on K-96. The proposed improvements include adding a westbound exit ramp and an eastbound entrance ramp, along with traffic signals at the ramps.

The change is essential to bring traffic in and move it to the east, Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner said.

“As it is, if you’re coming from or going east, you can’t get on or off there,” said Meitzner, in whose District 2 the development falls. “It’s essential for anyone coming from the turnpike or the eastern part of the state, as a tourist attraction.”

Greenwich also will be modified between 21st and 27th streets north to provide dual left and right turn lanes and the extension of medians. The city’s $90,000 contribution will allow for relocation and improvement of existing waterlines and other utilities. Work should begin in January, Meitzner said.

Tuesday’s action is the latest change from the original GoodSports project plan, approved last year, that included $7.5 million in sales tax and revenue bond money for the interchange. The state approved $3.8 million for the interchange project in early June. STAR bonds use sales tax revenue generated by a development to pay off bonds that finance major commercial entertainment and tourism areas.

In August, the council approved a community improvement district north and south of K-96 on the east side of Greenwich, essentially the first phase of the GoodSports STAR bond project approved recently by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The project had been scheduled to break ground in the spring but was pushed back.

The GoodSports project will be anchored by a fieldhouse, a 65,000-square-foot multisport athletics facility targeting regional and national tournaments. Developers say it will include 12 full-size basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts and can house team sports competitions for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, wrestling and cheerleading. The fieldhouse is projected to draw 300,000 visitors a year.

Adjacent to the fieldhouse will be a 150-room hotel targeting people coming to sports competitions.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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