Officials to dedicate Wichita's elevated train tracks

Thousands of people get across town quicker, less exhaust is pumped into the air and emergency vehicles don't have to find alternate routes, thanks to the elevation of the busy train tracks that cut through downtown Wichita.

To put those trains above the road cost $105 million, took nearly five years of construction and required a dizzying number of meetings and agreements.

This morning, some of the leaders who made it happen will stand atop the Central Rail Corridor, give speeches and dedicate the work.

Among them: Mayor Carl Brewer, former Mayor Bob Knight, Congressman Todd Tiahrt, City Council member Janet Miller, Sedgwick County Commission Chair Kelly Parks, state transportation engineer Jerry Younger and representatives of the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads.

"It was a really hard project to accomplish," Knight said.

The project started when the city heard that more long coal trains could be coming through Wichita.

People complained. Planning began.

"They were really impairing in a large fashion the investment we were trying to attract to the core area, specifically Old Town," Knight said.

It appeared impossible.

Eventually the railroad companies and government officials at all levels agreed on the importance. Everyone pitched in funding.

Now Knight said he hears consistently positive remarks — save for a few who were frustrated with how long it took.

"My sense is that the community, while they might not find it the most dominant issue in their lives, probably appreciate it," he said.