After years of controversy and planning, the city of Wichita will unveil its plans to connect 13th Street with I-235 today in a public meeting at the Sedgwick County Extension Center.
The meeting, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the 4-H Room of the center at 7001 W. 21st St., will allow area residents and business owners to learn about the project and provide feedback.
"I'm taking a beating over having this on Valentine's Day, but really what's more romantic than solving your traffic problems?" joked Mike Jacobs, the city's special projects engineer.
Congestion on I-235 has been a serious problem over most of the past two decades, and coming up with a way to fix it hasn't been easy.
The city conducted its first traffic study of I-235 congestion in 1992. That led to widening of Zoo Boulevard underneath I-235.
But traffic still snarled on I-235, especially during rush hour on Central and Zoo Boulevard.
Within the past two years, the city also made improvements to relieve traffic congestion at I-235 and Central.
"But Zoo (Boulevard) is still a bottleneck," Jacobs said of the interchange, where traffic exceeded 30,000 vehicles in the late 1990s.
Since 2000, there have been plans to build new exits on both 13th and 25th streets, each receiving endorsements from different engineers and resistance from residents.
In 2007, city engineers began designing a flyover from northbound I-235 that would cross over the Big Ditch and connect to 13th Street on the west side.
A full interchange isn't possible at I-235 and 13th Street because of the proximity to the existing exit at Zoo Boulevard.
Last month, the city received federal approval for the project.