WICHITA — Local leaders stood in front of three train engines and cut a red ribbon on one of the biggest engineering and time-saving projects in the city's history this morning.
The dedication of the Central Railroad Corridor grade separation project is the latest step in a 100-year history of efforts to elevate tracks over roadways.
The elevated tracks carry more than a dozen trains a day over First Street, Second Street, Central Avenue, Murdock and 13th Street.
"If you've ever waited at a railroad crossing in Wichita, and that has to include each and every one of you, we all know, you understand why we're here today," Mayor Carl Brewer said.
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The $105 million project will save an estimated 2 million hours a year that drivers would otherwise spend waiting at the tracks at the Central, Murdock and 13th Street crossings, according to Joe Pajor, assistant director of public works.
It also frees up routes for emergency vehicles and cuts down on air pollution.
Elected leaders credited efforts by city, state, federal and railroad officials, and they praised the engineers who designed, built and oversaw the project.
Pajor said the elevated railroads, which involve steel trusses, sand, concrete and other materials, weigh an estimated 30 billion pounds.
That comes out to about a third cent per pound, Pajor said.
"So, really quite affordable," he said.