City OKs $430 million Kellogg design

Think wind blowing across the prairie. Think Wichita's aviation heritage.

Those are some elements in design features for the next phase of construction that will convert Kellogg from an expressway to a freeway from just west of the turnpike to 159th Street East.

Tuesday, the City Council approved the aesthetic design of the $430 million project for the 4 1/2-mile stretch.

Besides images of grass being bent by the wind, airplane wings and tail sections will be incorporated into the project.

"Part of the inspiration of this is based on our heritage of nature itself and the winds," said John D'Angelo, the city's director of arts and cultural services. Noting Tuesday's winter blast, he added, "It's a wonderful but sometimes challenging environment."

Now, hold those thoughts on the design for a moment.

The first phase of the project — the Webb Road-turnpike interchange — won't start until at least 2014 and will likely take about four years to complete, said Mike Jacobs, special projects engineer for the city.

When the work begins largely depends on when funding becomes available. The state is expected to announce the highway projects it will help fund in the next month or so, Jacobs said.

D'Angelo said including art on Kellogg creates "a more livable community" for residents and visitors.

The $430 million is for everything, including the aesthetic enhancement, D'Angelo said.

Until bids come in, he said it won't be possible to separate how much the design features add to the total cost of the project.

"We're trying to integrate those enhancements into the project so there is minimal impact on costs associated with it," D'Angelo said. "The walls are going to be poured anyway. How we treat the surface of the wall is what the artistic piece is."

After bids are received, the project will be brought back to the council for additional input.

Other stretches of Kellogg already have various design features. Being from New York, council member Sue Schlapp said she particularly appreciates those designs.

"We had barriers up there that were pretty darn ugly," she said. "I know there is some concern from the community about spending money on these types of projects."

But, she added, "There's something very refreshing, very enlightening, very encouraging (about aesthetic enhancements)."

Patience is a big part of the work on Kellogg, which began more than 20 years ago. So far, 13 miles have been completed at a cost of $550 million, Jacobs said.

Of that amount, $500 million came from the city, $40 million from the state and $10 million from Sedgwick County, Jacobs said.

The city's primary source of funds for Kellogg work is a countywide, 1-cent sales tax enacted in 1985.

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