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West Wichita interchange one of many road projects starting in 2016

Work on the West Kellogg-I-235 interchange is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019.
Work on the West Kellogg-I-235 interchange is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019. The Wichita Eagle

At the time, it seemed like a good idea to construct tight cloverleaf ramps for the West Kellogg and I-235 interchange.

It was cost effective and a space-saving way to build the interchange.

But that was more than 50 years ago. West Wichita’s significant growth, especially over the past 20 years, has led to explosive growth in the interchange’s traffic count.

About 16,000 vehicles used the interchange daily when it was built in 1962. More than 133,000 crowded on the tight turns in 2015, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Now, after a decade of planning, the interchange is getting a major overhaul. Work started in November on a $103 million project that will include two flyovers.

“It’s long overdue,” said Tom Hein, KDOT spokesman for the Wichita area.

Over the past five years, the interchange has seen 376 accidents, resulting in two deaths and 116 injuries, KDOT figures show.

Don’t get in a rush to see results, though. The work isn’t expected to be completed until the summer of 2019.

The $103 million is for construction costs only. Costs for such things as design, buying right-of-ways and moving utilities will run another $40 million, Hein said. State and federal money is funding 90 percent of the project.

Plans call for the interchange work to be done in four phases. Only the first phase has been funded so far.

That phase will address major safety concerns in two areas, officials said.

One is a two-lane flyover that comes off southbound I-235 onto eastbound Kellogg and ends at West Street. The other is a one-lane flyover that’s northbound on I-235 and takes drivers to westbound Kellogg.

That gets rid of those tight cloverleaf ramps.

“It’ll be a free-flowing movement of traffic,” City Engineer Gary Janzen said. “You won’t have to slow down and take those small, circular ramps. There will be a lot more room to merge in with traffic.”

The first phase is known as the Red Project. For more information on the work, go to www.235kelloggcentral.com.

The interchange is one of many road and bridge projects being done by the city and Sedgwick County that are either continuing or being started in 2016.

Among the county’s projects is a $1.92 million repair job on the 40-year-old MacArthur bridges that cross the Arkansas River between Hydraulic and K-15. Work began earlier this month and is set to be finished by fall.

Besides repairing the deck, the project will provide erosion protection for two sets of existing pillars.

“It’s not an emergency now,” said Jim Weber, the county’s deputy public works director. “We’re trying to prevent an emergency. If we let something real bad happen, it could cost $5 million to $7 million.”

Because the bridges are a major link for Spirit AeroSystems employees going to work, one bridge will be kept open while the other is being repaired. The open bridge will have a lane for travel each way.

For more city and county bridge projects, see the list attached to this story at Kansas.com.

Here are significant projects being done by the city and county in 2016. Costs listed are for construction work only. Some of the city and county projects are funded by a mix of federal, state and local money:

Wichita projects

South

Pawnee, Hydraulic to Grove

What: Expand existing four-lane road into five lanes, including intersections at Hydraulic and Southeast Blvd. Sidewalks will be added to both sides of the street and improvements made to drainage.

Cost: $4.4 million.

When: Start in June; expected to be finished in May 2017.

Meridian, Pawnee to McCormick

What: Expand existing four-lane road to five lanes. Significant drainage improvements. Reconstruction of Meridian and Harry intersection. Sidewalks to be added to both sides of the street.

Cost: $7.5 million

When: Started in January; expected to be complete in May 2017.

East

Kellogg and Webb interchange

What: Continuing work to expand Kellogg to a six-lane freeway. When completed, Kellogg will go under Webb. Work has begun on building frontage roads, so the Kellogg traffic can be moved to those roads while the rest of the freeway is built. Bulk of frontage roads will be completed this year. Intersection is seeing 73,000 vehicles per day.

Cost: $79.1 million.

When: Started in fall of 2015; completion projected for fall 2019.

Kellogg and Greenwich to K-96

What: Another stretch of expanding Kellogg to a six-lane freeway. Two new ramp connections to Kansas Turnpike. When completed, Kellogg will go over Greenwich and Zelta roads.

Cost: $135 million.

When: Start in June; completion projected in 2020.

37th Street, Oliver to Woodlawn

What: Existing two-lane asphalt road to be expanded to three lanes with on-street bike lanes. Drainage improvements and sidewalks added on both sides.

Cost: $4.2 million, including $1.3 million split between Bel Aire and city of Wichita.

When: Start in June; expected to be completed in May 2017.

13th Street and Edgemoor intersection

What: Put in traffic signals. Add left-turn lanes and signals for westbound 13th and northbound Edgemoor.

Cost: $700,000.

When: Work started in January and expected to be completed in August.

Douglas and Hydraulic intersection

What: Put in left-turn lanes on all approaches. Upgrade traffic signals. Install crosswalks.

Cost: $1.2 million.

When: Expected to start this fall and be completed in March 2017.

West

West Kellogg and I-235 interchange

What: Construct two flyover bridges to address heaviest traffic. Remove the interchange’s existing cloverleaf ramps in the southwest and northeast quadrants. Ramp in southeast quadrant will be reconstructed so it will have a greater turning radius. Widen Kellogg bridge over West Street. Three other phases of work on the interchange awaiting funding.

Cost: $103 million

When: Started in November and projected to be completed in summer of 2019.

Sedgwick County projects

North

93rd Street North

What: Paving of two miles of 93rd St. between Meridian and Broadway. Part of the area is inside Valley Center. County will pay for the west mile and Valley Center will pay for the east mile. Project provides better road to Valley Center High School.

Cost: $1.2 million.

When: To start June 1 and be completed by Aug. 13.

South

Meridian pedestrian bridge

What: Pedestrian bridge to be constructed along Meridian on the northwest corner of Haysville, near 63rd St. South. It will be off to the side of the existing vehicular bridge. This will link existing pathways north and south of the Big Ditch. That will connect Haysville with south Wichita and Campus High School.

Cost: $2 million.

When: Bids to be let around Oct. 1. Work to start in 2017 and finish in same year.

Southwest

135th Street West

What: Repaving 135th St. West between 95th St. and 103rd St. South. First quarter mile will be rebuilt road with new asphalt. From there to 103rd, project will grind off a few inches off top of road and replace with new asphalt. Final phase of a series of four projects the county has undertaken to pave or upgrade 135th from US 54 to Clearwater.

Cost: $1 million.

When: Start May 1 and to be completed by Aug. 13.

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